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Alvar Aalto 1898-1998

Alvar Aalto of Finland, who died in 1976, was one of our century's landmark figures in the renewal of architecture and interior decoration. More has been written about him and his work - especially abroad - than about any other architect in the post-war period. He is so unique and inimitable as an architect that no "Aalto School" ever had a chance of emerging. Yet he has left an indelible impression on contemporary architectural thinking and design.

In artistic creation, conscious respect for the problems of our times includes a magnificent goal: that of taking industrialism step-by-step to where it will eventually have to arrive - at the status of a harmonious cultural factor. (Alvar Aalto, 1928)

National distinctiveness is ultimately of no significance in this matter, because he who is great dares to be universal, but his own persona will show through in his work. (1929)

Nature's biological system obviously bears within it a clear indication of what form standardisation in accordance with architecture's own character must take. (1941)

At its best, abstract art is, as it were, a result of a process of crystallisation. That may explain why it can be understood purely and solely through emotion, although in it and behind it are constructive thoughts and a fabric of human tragedy. (1947)

Quality is very, very difficult to socialise so that the general public can have access to and enjoy it. I doubt if we have any better chance of that than Christ, when he mixed water with red wine at the wedding feast of Cana. (1950)

I do not write, I build. The Creator made paper for drawing on. Everything else, at least to me, is an abuse. (1958)

Sibelius said: If you utter three words to explain music, at least two of them are wrong. The same applies to my philosophy of architecture. (1959)

There is always a human error in architecture. Indeed, it is even necessary when one looks deeper into the matter, and without it we cannot express the richness of life and its positive characteristics. (1972) Image size 4 Kb



Celebrations, commemorative coin and Alvar Aalto wine

Alvar Aalto was born on 3.2.1898. Dozens of exhibitions, events, TV programmes, a CD-ROM and several books will mark his centenary in Finland and many other places around the world, including the United States, Japan, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. A campaign is under way to have one of his great creation, the Paimio sanatarium in Finland, added to the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. The Government of Finland has commissioned an Alvar Aalto coin, designed by Henrik Gummerus. In a further tribute to the maestro, red and white wine from the Tuscany region of Italy will be bottled under a special Alvar Aalto label.

 Related links:
The Alvar Aalto Museum
Famous Finns: Alvar Aalto • FINFO