Segments in this Video

Technology Paradox in Architecture (00:56)


Alvar Aalto turned to nature to solve tensions between humans and mechanization.

Shaping an Architectural Perspective (03:42)

A friend describes Aalto's relationships with clients. Learn childhood biographical details; a surveyor and a forester in the family influenced his aesthetic ties to nature.

Architectural Education (02:10)

Aalto was inspired by Italian classical art and rejected early 20th century romanticism—but united the Finnish building traditions with the Mediterranean.

Jyväskylä Workers' House (01:51)

Aalto's first important work was influenced by Italian aesthetics and Asplund's Lister Courthouse. Architectural details in the Seinajoki Defence Corp Building foreshadow Gesamtkunstwerk.

Mediterranean Inspiration (01:36)

Aalto married fellow architect Aino Marsio; hear his ode to a plane propeller written during their honeymoon to Venice and Padua. He designed a Finnish church after rural Italian chapels.

Aalto's Functionalism (03:27)

The Turun Sanomat Newspaper Building and Paimio Sanatorium reflect the architect's fascination with technology—fashionable during the '20s. Learn how he prioritized patient needs in his design.

Paimio Sanatorium Furniture (01:25)

Aalto rejected steel for birch wood chairs; curved design elements would return in later works.

Viipuri Library (00:44)

View functionalist exterior and natural interior features of Aalto's design.

Aalto's Helsinki Home (01:09)

Multiplicity of forms and natural materials indicate the architect’s retreat from functionalism.

Aalto's Family Life (03:08)

Aino was Alvar's partner in design as well as marriage; their daughter describes family relationships. View film footage of domestic life.

Savoy Restaurant (01:42)

Aino and Alvar collaborated on the Helinski restaurant's interior design. Architect Touko Saari collects Aalto's iconic glass vases.

"Artek" (02:06)

Learn how the Helsinki gallery was founded in 1935. Aalto found a synthesis between art, nature and mass production in his bentwood furniture.

Sunila Pulp Mill (01:52)

Aalto was commissioned to build a mill and worker housing area; Maire Gullichsen recalls their working relationship and shared social goals.

Villa Mairea (03:08)

Aalto was inspired by traditional Finnish houses to reintroduce wood in the Gullichsen's 1938 commission. Learn how the design incorporates natural and Japanese elements.

Aalto in the U.S. (01:56)

The architect designed the Finnish pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair in New York—in his view, the future of civilization. Friends recall his personality and unique communication style.

Reconstructing Rovaniemi (02:01)

After World War II, retreating German armies destroyed Lapland. Aalto was commissioned to rebuild its capital; view footage of an urban planning council meeting.

Mass Housing Projects (01:12)

After World War II, Karelian refugees were evacuated to Finland. Aalto devised an architectural strategy allowing for natural design variation.

Baker House (01:23)

View elements of Aalto's student housing building at the MIT School of Architecture. While in Boston, Alvar received news of Aino's cancer.

University of Jyvaskyla Building (01:41)

View Aalto's "outdoor" indoor space linking to nature.

Säynätsalo Town Hall (01:46)

Red bricks, ceiling beam arrangements, and a courtyard characterize Aalto's '50s creative period. Elissa Aalto shows a Leger painting commissioned for the municipality.

Muuratsalo Home (01:23)

Aalto built a summer house with leftover bricks from Säynätsalo and designed a motor boat. Elissa describes their marriage.

Italian Influence (01:54)

Aalto tried to import Mediterranean sociability and climate to Finland through his designs, including amphitheaters and roofed piazzas.

National Pensions Institute (01:01)

Aalto tried to create a pleasant work environment in his first official commission in Helsinki. View interior lamps.

University of Technology, Helsinki (00:58)

Aalto's work features fan shapes, natural light and brick walls.

Asymmetry in Aalto's Design (02:39)

View asymmetrical elements in the Helsinki House of Culture and the Imatra church. The Church at Lahti expresses his spiritual view of art.

Riola Church (00:56)

View Aalto's only work implemented in Italy—featuring a Protestant aesthetic.

Wolfsburg House of Culture (01:07)

In the '60s, Aalto received commissions throughout Europe. A community center in Germany reflects his affinity towards multifunction buildings.

Aalto's Libraries (03:33)

View Aalto's use of natural light and form in the Seinajoki, Rovaniemi and Mount Angel Abbey libraries.

Enso-Gutzeit Headquarters (01:16)

Aalto's Helsinki design has been criticized for replacing the historic Hoijer building. An expert explains that he tried to fit his works into the surrounding environment.

Finlandia Concert and Congress Hall (01:52)

Learn about Aalto's vision for Helsinki's center and view the only implemented building.

Aalto's Legacy (01:03)

The architect died in 1976, disappointed that his Helsinki plan wasn't implemented. A colleague remembers him as a humanist during an intellectual design era.

Credits: Alvar Aalto: Technology and Nature (01:58)

Credits: Alvar Aalto: Technology and Nature

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Alvar Aalto: Technology and Nature

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Filmed in his native Finland, Italy, Germany, and the U.S., this program looks at the life and work of Alvar Aalto and examines his creative style in the context of his time, the traditions he inherited, and the country and climate in which he lived. For Aalto, the Finnish landscape was much more than the background to which he successfully molded his own creations; he had an almost mystical affinity with it which was central to his whole achievement. Throughout his long career, Aalto’s work embraced almost all the key public institutions as well as public and private housing. In the 1930s and 40s, almost single-handedly, Aalto made his country a place of pilgrimage for all who sought enlightenment as to the aesthetic possibility of the new architecture. (60 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL6272

Copyright date: ©1996

Closed Captioned

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