28 Facts About Alvar Aalto


Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer.

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Alvar Aalto's work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware, as well as sculptures and paintings.

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Alvar Aalto never regarded himself as an artist, seeing painting and sculpture as "branches of the tree whose trunk is architecture.

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The Alvar Aalto Museum, designed by Aalto himself, is located in what is regarded as his home city, Jyvaskyla.

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Alvar Aalto's work reflects a deep desire to humanize architecture through an unorthodox handling of form and materials that was both rational and intuitive.

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Alvar Aalto's father, Johan Henrik Aalto, was a Finnish-speaking land-surveyor and his mother, Selma Matilda "Selly" was a Swedish-speaking postmistress.

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Alvar Aalto's studies were interrupted by the Finnish Civil War, in which he fought.

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Alvar Aalto fought on the side of the White Army and fought at the Battle of Lankipohja and the Battle of Tampere.

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Alvar Aalto built his first piece of architecture while a student; a house for his parents at Alajarvi.

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In 1920, while a student, Alvar Aalto made his first trip abroad, travelling via Stockholm to Gothenburg, where he briefly found work with architect Arvid Bjerke.

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Alvar Aalto died on 11 May 1976, in Helsinki, and is buried in the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki.

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Elissa Alvar Aalto became the director of the practice, running the office from 1976-1994.

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Alvar Aalto entered several architectural competitions for prestigious state public buildings, in Finland and abroad.

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Alvar Aalto's reputation grew in the US following the invitation to hold a retrospective exhibition of his works at MOMA in New York in 1938.

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Alvar Aalto's reputation grew in the US following the critical reception of his design for the Finnish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair, described by Frank Lloyd Wright as a "work of genius".

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Alvar Aalto's increased fame led to offers and commissions outside Finland.

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Originally used in Baker House to signify the Ivy League university tradition, Alvar Aalto went on to use it in a number of key buildings after his return to Finland, most notably in several of the buildings in the new Helsinki University of Technology campus, Saynatsalo Town Hall (1952), Helsinki Pensions Institute (1954), Helsinki House of Culture (1958), as well as in his own summer house, the Experimental House in Muuratsalo (1957).

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Alvar Aalto first presented his vision in 1961, but it went through various modifications during the early '60s.

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Alvar Aalto employed the Miesian formal language of geometric grids used in those buildings for other sites in Helsinki, including the Enso-Gutzeit headquarters building, the Academic Bookstore, and the SYP Bank building (1969).

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Since the death of Elissa Aalto, the office has continued to operate as the Alvar Aalto Academy, giving advice on the restoration of Aalto buildings and organizing the practice's vast archives.

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Alvar Aalto became the first furniture designer to use the cantilever principle in chair designs using wood.

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Alvar Aalto's awards included the Prince Eugen Medal in 1954, the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1957 and the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1963.

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Alvar Aalto was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1957.

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Alvar Aalto was a member of the Academy of Finland, and was its president from 1963 to 1968.

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Alvar Aalto has a few buildings in France, Germany, Italy, and the USA.

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Alvar Aalto claimed that his paintings were not made as individual artworks but as part of his process of architectural design, and many of his small-scale "sculptural" experiments with wood led to later larger architectural details and forms.

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Alvar Aalto's furniture was exhibited in London in 1935, to great critical acclaim.

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Alvar Aalto was influential in bringing modern art to the attention of the Finnish people, in particular the work of his friends Alexander Milne Calder and Fernand Leger.

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