Are we protecting Aalto to death? This is what Aalto researcher and Yale University Professor Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen asks. She warns us about unnecessary sterilisation and turning buildings into empty museums. When the protection of buildings is taken to extremes, instead of remembering our history, it can cause us loss of memory. Pelkonen reflects upon the criteria that set Aalto’s buildings above other endangered architecture. “Aalto primarily designed buildings with the user in mind. Let them be filled with life.” Architects Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen and Jonas Malmberg also write about Aalto’s legacy and its significance today.
The history of modernism is regarded from various points of view. Italian professor Silvia Micheli writes about Erik Bryggman, ‘the architect of Turku’, and defines his role in relation to Aalto. Film director Jari Halonen criticises modernism saying that architecture should not just be about creating more clarity, especially in Finland where there is plenty of space and things are, on the whole, in good order. “Our aesthetic tradition is markedly cold and forbidding. It begs the question, how much true happiness has an Alvar Aalto house ever brought anybody?”
The latest issue presents renovations of modern architecture. The Viipuri Library, an outstanding work from Aalto’s early career, and the Helsinki House of Culture from his redbrick period have been meticulously repaired. Emanating the faith in the future felt in the 1960s, the Sampola School in Tampere has been renovated to an art oriented high school. An Art Nouveau hotel in Hanko that was ‘modernised’ in the 1960s has now been refurbished respecting the original architecture.
Tapani Mustonen, Leif Englund, Maija Kairamo, Viipuri Library (Alvar Aalto 1935)
NRT Architects, House of Culture, Helsinki (Alvar Aalto 1958)
Kouvo & Partanen Architects, Sampola, Tampere (Timo Penttilä, Kari Virta 1962)
Marja-Riitta Norri Architects, Hotel Regatta, Hanko (Lars Sonck 1905)