Alvar Aalto

The Father of Modern Scandinavian Architecture: Alvar Aalto. Although, he didn't design the most amazing buildings in history, Alvar Aalto surely deserves to be named ''The Father of Modern Scandinavian Architecture,'' not because he’s the greatest architect, but because he is one of the best of the earliest Scandinavian pioneers in the field of modern architecture.

He is among the first and most influential architects of Nordic modernism who had closely followed and had personal contacts with other pioneers in Sweden, such as Asplund and Sven Markelius.

These pioneers started from a classical education and were the first to design the so-called Nordic Classic style before moving in the late 1920s towards Modernism. Interestingly, many of Aalto’s designs revealed traditionalism rooted in the cultural heritage and physical environment of Finland. That wasn't due to the fact that modernism was still in its infant stage, but rather because of Aalto's understanding of the psychological needs of modern society.

Studying his works show that he understood and implemented the particular qualities of the Finnish environment throughout his designs. He understood the historical, technical, and cultural traditions of Scandinavian architecture and used it in his designs. Without sacrificing his attempts towards creating a new kind of modern architectural theory and work, he blended traditionalism because of its importance with modernism, because it was the time for such a blending.

Alvar Aalto was born in village of Kuortane, Finland. He studied architecture at the Helsinki Polytechnic School from 1916 to 1921. He then established his first architectural office in 1923. Aalto moved his office to Turku, located on the southwest coast of Finland, in 1927 and then started collaborating and making numerous contacts with other architects. These contacts helped him in his development. For example, his friendship with architect Erik Bryggman was made possible with Turku's closeness to Sweden and associations with Asplund and Sven Markelius provided connections with the continental architectural avant-garde.

The office moved again in 1933, to Helsinki. This was an important period of transition in his work. One of his most remarkable works is the redesigning of the Viipuri Library which transformed the old library from pure traditionalism to a completely whole new modern building.

Alvar Aalto died in 1976, in Helsinki.


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