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The gems of Alvar Aalto’s housing design compiled in a single monograph

During the course of a career spanning over 50 years, Alvar Aalto designed nearly 100 single-family houses, as well as various apartments blocks, student dormitories and summer homes. Aalto was interested in the social aspect of all building, but this is especially evident in his housing architecture. The purpose of architecture was to create a framework for a good everyday life. Even the most modest dwellings comprised beautiful and practical design solutions, and most of them had a direct access to nature.

Aalto considered experimental building to be very important: in his opinion, there should always be an opportunity for experimentation in every project, for it is only in that way that architecture can be promoted and quality improved for the good of the ‘little man’.

Alvar Aalto Homes presents 30 homes designed by Aalto from the 1920s to the end of the 1960s built in Finland, the United States, Estonia and France. The book features 12 single-family houses: the impressive Gesamtkunstwerks of Villa Mairea and Maison Louis Carré, the stylishly simple residences of factory directors and unique homes designed for Aalto's friends. Included among the semi-detached houses are the modest yet comfortable Asevelikylä housing, that is, the Standard Housing in Tampere. The book also features 14 apartment buildings and row houses: the tower blocks Neue Vahr in Bremen, Germany, Schönbühl in Lucerne, Switzerland, and Viitatorni in Jyväskylä, Finland, show that it is possible to construct tall buildings that are adapted to the human scale. The row houses and terraced houses, such as the Standard Terrace Housing in Kauttua, the ROT houses in Kotka, and the row house in Pietarsaari, are examples of the close interaction between nature and the built environment. The book features three summer villas: the Aaltos’ own summer homes, Villa Flora (designed together with Aino Aalto) and the Muuratsalo Experimental House, as well as Aalto's early work Villa Vekara. On show in both the Experimental House and the Aaltos’ own home on Riihitie in Helsinki were not only the Aaltos’ family life but also Aalto's own experiments, through which he explored new ideas.

The sites in the book are divided into five sections in chronological order, from the 1920s to the 1960s. At the beginning of each section, Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen briefly describes what was particularly unique and noteworthy in Aalto’s housing design during that decade. After this, she presents each building in closer detail. Jari Jetsonen’s excellent colour photos take centre stage in the book: double page spreads, full page-height photos and groups of small photos guide the reader through Aalto’s buildings. The key word is “home”. In the exterior photos the gaze is directed towards the inviting entrance or the homely warmth glimpsed behind the windows. The interior photos are dominated by spaciousness, the multi-usability of consecutive spaces as well as the views of nature that open up through the windows. The small becomes spacious and the large intimate. The photos are complemented by Aalto’s original drawings and old photos. Because the book specifically presents homes, an abundance of interior photos have been selected.

Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen’s presentations of the homes is complimented by Jussi Rautsi’s essay, which tells the story of the wonderful partnership of the Aaltos: Alvar and his spouses Aino and Elissa. The foreword to the book has been written by distinguished Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.

See also the exhibition “The Housing Problem” at the Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery, Jyväskylä, 8.6.–16.9.2018:

Alvar Aalto Homes

Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen: texts
Jari Jetsonen: photographs
Jussi Rautsi: article

Publisher: Rakennustieto Publishing, 2018

279 pages | 291 photographs and drawings | size 216 mm × 288 mm, hard cover | 66 € (incl. VAT)

ISBN 978-952-267-216-2

Rakennustieto Publishing Online shop:

Press copies and photographs: Kristiina Bergholm, tel. +358 40-824 0765,

Images of the cover and openings can be obtained from the following link:

« takaisin

Press release at 13.6.2018