Expand your Nordic design obsession with Finland’s most famous architect, Alvar Aalto (1898–1976)
With Nordic culture at the height of its influence this book offers the chance to discover the region’s most famous and successful architect, Alvar Aalto, one of the twentieth-centuries most popular and accessible masters.
Born in Finland, Aalto’s work is steeped in the influence of the unique Nordic ‘nightlands,’ a severe climate with limited sunlight that has informed much of Scandinavia’s design legacy and current noir-ish appeal. In architecture, this intensity has lead to an unparalleled integration of culture and place. Aalto’s sensitivity to external factors became a touchstone for all his work and his enthusiastic engagement of Modern architecture became a response to the severity long dictated by Finland’s climate. This was followed by a lifelong resistance to the ‘dehumanisation’ of the International Style, an empty formal shell unable to respond to life taking place.
Aalto’s significant body of work includes architecture and design, spanning furniture, textiles and glassware. Considered by most to be by far the most popular and accessible of the first generation of leading Modern architects, Aalto’s architecture is arguably unmatched by that of any other major designer of the 20th century in its integration with place and daily life.
This book engages the architecture of Aalto through an integrated examination of his major works, how they engage the light, climate and topography of their sites, exemplifying the way in which he extended Finnish tradition and engaged newly emerging Modern materials. It describes the actual inhabitation of Aalto’s architecture and the way in which daily life and of contemporary culture are integrated in the experience of interior space – something that was of paramount importance to Aalto.
This is a fantastic and leading title for Aalto and architecture enthusiasts as well as the uninitiated who are keen to learn more.
Robert McCarter is a practicing architect and has been Ruth and Norman Moore Professor of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis since 2007. He taught previously at the University of Florida, where he was Director of the School of Architecture from 1991–2001, and Columbia University, among other schools. He has written for numerous international publications, and his books include: Carlo Scarpa (2013); Understanding Architecture, co-authored with Juhani Pallasmaa (2012); Louis I Kahn (2005); On and By Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer of Architectural Principles(2005); Frank Lloyd Wright (1997); Unity Temple (1997); and Fallingwater (1994), all by Phaidon Press. He has also published Wiel Arets: Autobiographical References (2012); Frank Lloyd Wright: Critical Lives (2006); and William Morgan: Selected and Current Work (2002), among other books.
007 Introduction Alvar Aalto: Modern Architecture on Another Path
009 I The White Table: An Eternal Return to the Forest
027 II Mediterranean Light and Arctic Night
047 III Towards a Natural Functionalism: Putting Modernism in Place
077 IV At Once Champion and Critic of Modern Architecture
109 V Experience as the Measure: Towards a Life-Enhancing Modernism
141 VI Setting an Example: From Forest Clearing to Urban Space
171 VII The Human Spirit and the Line of the Land
203 VIII Nemo Propheta in Patria: Finland in the Long Shadow
236 Conclusion After Aalto: The Other Tradition of Modern Architecture
240 Further Reading