While living in Turku, Alvar Aalto and Aino Marsio-Aalto became acquainted with the industrialist Juho Tapani, who owned a company that manufactured concrete standard elements. The walls and intermediate floor elements that Tapani had developed, so-called Tapani slabs, were hollow, so they already included the space necessary for various pipes and other infrastructure. The Aaltos designed an apartment building in Turku, called the Standard Apartment House, using these elements (1927-29).
At the street level of the building were shops and on the upper floors were apartments. The walls between the apartments were load-bearing, but in the apartments themselves the partition walls were lightweight and basically modifiable. In some of the apartments an additional room could be partitioned off from the living room by means of large pivot doors.
Aino Marsio-Aalto furnished a few showroom apartments with lightweight, modern imported furniture. International standard furniture was used in the interior design, such as Viennese Thonet chairs and Marcel Breuer’s metal-framed furniture. Although the Aaltos and Tapani had great expectations, the economic recession of the 1930s led to Tapani’s bankruptcy, and no more “Tapani houses” were built.
Standard Apartment House is listed on the DOCOMOMO Finland registered selection of important architectural and environmental modernist sites.
More information on Alvar Aalto Foundation website.