Richelle Sibolboro

Alvar Aalto Studio Tour

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Alvar Aalto is considered the master of Finnish design. Last year when I was in Helsinki, I took decided to go on an Aalto tour to his office located at Tiilimäki 20 in Munkkiniemi. The building is only a short walk from Aalto’s own house (which I will also show in another photo essay), where his office had previously been located. Studio Aalto is one of the best of Alvar Aalto’s 1950s buildings.

The white-rendered, wall-like, closed-in mass of the building conceals a garden shaped like an amphitheatre in its inner courtyard. This is where the office staff could sit on the slate steps of the amphitheatre, listen to lectures or watch slide shows projected on the white wall.

The slanting bay window in the conference room with its rooflight creates the perfect conditions for examining models and drawings.

In 1962-1963 the building was extended by building a dining room for the staff, the ‘Taverna’, in the courtyard behind the high brick wall, with an office above it.

The principal space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. Horizontal battens fixed to the high walls of the studio allowed drawings to be displayed there. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows and prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall.

Alvar Aalto ran the office until his death in 1976. After that, the office continued under the leadership of Elissa Aalto until 1994. The building came into the custodianship of the Alvar Aalto Foundation in 1984 and today it houses the Alvar Aalto Foundation staff. 

Richelle Sibolboro

Design strategist and content creator for hire with a passion for arts and culture specifically in design, architecture, and travel. She has produced content for designboom, Azure magazine, Open City Projects, Digifest, and World Design Weeks. Follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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