In connection with his planning assignment for the Stenius company, architects Aino Marsio-Aalto and Alvar Aalto acquired a plot at Riihitie in Munkkiniemi in 1934, and promptly built a house there. Its departures from rigid Rationalism make this an important advance in their series of private houses from the Villa Tammekann to the Villa Mairea.

The slender mass of the office wing is in white-painted, lightly rendered brickwork. There are still clear references to Functionalism in the location of the windows. The cladding material of the residential part is slender, dark-stained timber battens. The building has a flat roof and a large south-facing terrace. Although the streetside elevation of the house is severe and closed-off, it is softened by climbing plants and a slate path leading up to the front door. There are already signs of the ‘new’ Aaltos in the Aalto House, of the Romantic Functionalist. The plentiful use of wood as a finishing material and four open hearts built in brick also point to this.

Combining work spaces and housing demonstrates the Aalto’s joint attitude to the integration of art and everyday life, and gives expression to their view of work as the meaning of life for the harmonious human being. The lower storey forms a spatial continuum of living and working rooms; the bedrooms, children’s room, and sunlit terrace are upstairs. The interiors were elegantly furnished in every detail, but with no trace of straining for effect.

The Aalto House was in residential use until architect Elissa Aalto’s death in 1994, when it came into the custodianship of the Alvar Aalto Foundation. The house was renovated in 2000-2002. Today The Aalto House serves as museum and is a member of The Iconic House organization.

Location

Riihitie 20, Helsinki
60.1967958, 24.8764963

Images

Courtyard façade in 1940s, The Aalto House
Courtyard façade in 1940s, The Aalto House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Site plan, The Aalto House
Site plan, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Ground floor plan, The Aalto House
Ground floor plan, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
1st floor plan, The Aalto House
1st floor plan, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Section, The Aalto House
Section, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
South elevation, The Aalto House
South elevation, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
North elevation, The Aalto House
North elevation, The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
The Aalto House
The Aalto House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Courtyard façade, The Aalto House
Courtyard façade, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
From living room to the studio, The Aalto House
From living room to the studio, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
From studio to the living room, The Aalto House
From studio to the living room, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
In front the studio wing, The Aalto House
In front the studio wing, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Living room and dining room, The Aalto House
Living room and dining room, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Main entrance, The Aalto House
Main entrance, The Aalto House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)

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