During the construction of the town hall in nearby Säynätsalo, Alvar and Elissa Aalto discovered an attractive lakeshore site for their summer house. They built a studio house there in 1952–53, to serve both as a leisure home and as a test site for a series of architectural experiments, in line with the Aaltos’ idea that architects should have the opportunity to try out new ideas, as in a laboratory.

The house is a modest structure, built partly with rejected bricks from the Säynätsalo site. It consists of two obliquely placed wings, one of which contains the living room and the other two bedrooms and a bathroom; the kitchen is at the intersection. Two high brick walls, rendered on the outside, suggestive of ruins, complete the picture. Together with the two wings of the house, the walls enclose an atrium-like courtyard, with a sunken fire pit in the middle.

One experimental test was the use of various kinds of brick and ceramics. The test was performed by dividing the atrium walls and floor into some fifty test fields. A wooden wing with two bedrooms was added in 1953. The ensemble further included a shed, an experimental sauna, and a landing stage for the motorboat ‘Nemo propheta in patria’.

The small log sauna with a turf roof was built in 1953–54. It stands on the lakeside with four boulders as foundation and only a minuscule changing room in front of the genuine, sooty ‘smoke sauna’.

Alvar Aalto designed the boat ‘Nemo propheta in patria’ in 1954 for travelling to his summer home on Muuratsalo island. As in a military landing craft, the prow is based on the gradient of the lakeshore, and equipped with an out-turned gunwale to facilitate landing in wilderness conditions. The entire forward part, containing benches and the wheel, is open to the sky; a small cabin with two berths and a powerful engine are situated in the aft. The craft was built by the local carpenter Väinö Jokinen. The Aaltos built a small harbour for the boat below the summer house, and another one in Säynätsalo where they left their car. Today the boat is stored under a canopy on the site in Muuratsalo.

Muuratsalo Experimental House is listed on the DOCOMOMO Finland registered selection of important architectural and environmental modernist sites.

Location

Jyväskylä
62.1156031, 25.7483819

Images

Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Vatanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Vatanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sketch, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sketch, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
North elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
North elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
East elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
East elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
West elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
West elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Section and courtyard elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Section and courtyard elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Section, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Section, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Site plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Site plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, elevations and foundation rocks, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, elevations and foundation rocks, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, section, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, section, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
'Nemo propheta in patria', Muuratsalo Experimental House
'Nemo propheta in patria', Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
'Nemo propheta in patria' stored under a canopy, Muuratsalo Experimental House
'Nemo propheta in patria' stored under a canopy, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)

More projects by authors

Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aalto Pavilion

  • Venice
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Alajärvi Youth Association Building

  • Alajärvi
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Detmerode Church and Parish Centre

  • Wolfsburg
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Church of the Three Crosses

  • Imatra
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Church of the Cross

  • Lahti
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

The Seinäjoki Defence Corps Building

  • Seinäjoki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Riola Church and Parish Centre

  • Riola
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

The Jyväskylä Defence Corps Building

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Nuora Building (alterations)

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Villa Karpio

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

National Pensions Institute Housing

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Villa Skeppet

  • Tammisaari
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Standard Apartment House

  • Turku
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Casa Lauren

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Kantola House

  • Kotka
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre

  • Lucerne, Switzerland
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Iron House

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Paimio Sanatorium

  • Paimio
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Studio Aalto

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aalto-Hochhaus

  • Bremen
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Finlandia Hall

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Villa Mairea

  • Noormarkku
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Säynätsalo Town Hall

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Alvar Aalto Museum

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre

  • Espoo
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

National Pensions Institute

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aalto University Undergraduate Centre

  • Espoo
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Viipuri Library

  • Vyborg
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Muurame Church

  • Muurame
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Jyväskylä Workers’ Club

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Cross of the Plains Church (Lakeuden risti)

  • Seinäjoki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

University of Jyväskylä, the Aalto’s Campus

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Sunila Pulp Mill and Residential Area

  • Kotka
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Hansaviertel Apartment House

  • Berlin
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aira Apartment Building for Railway Workers

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Aalto University Student Dormitory

  • Espoo
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Maison Louis Carré

  • Bazoches-sur-Guyonne
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Villa Kokkonen

  • Järvenpää
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

The Aalto House

  • Helsinki
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Villa Tammekann

  • Tartu, Estonia
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Viitatorni

  • Jyväskylä
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Terraced House

  • Eura
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

House of Culture

  • Helsinki

Nearby projects

Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Säynätsalo Town Hall

  • 3 km
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Muurame Church

  • 4.5 km
Empty placeholder image
Bookmark

Kuokkala Church

  • 12.4 km