One of Alvar Aalto's key works is the Otaniemi campus. photo: Alvar Aalto Foundation

The Cultivated Landscape of Alvar Aalto at the Museum of Finnish Architecture starting from 25 September


As for the Finnish landscape, I have always been immersed in it. When I began to appreciate the balance and harmony it exudes, I also began to understand how we humans should treat out natural surroundings.

– Alvar Aalto 1972


Exhibition: The Cultivated Landscape of Alvar Aalto
Museum of Finnish Architecture
Kasarmikatu 24, Helsinki
25 Sept. 2019 – 12 April 2020
open Tue–Sun 11–18, Wed 11–20

The exhibition, co-produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Alvar Aalto Foundation, takes a comprehensive look at how various features of the landscape influenced Alvar Aalto’s designs and his unique way of interpreting and reshaping the surroundings in dialogue with his architecture. The exhibition invites us to appreciate landscapes as an integral part of Aalto’s architectural legacy.

Landscape is an essential part of Alvar Aalto’s (1898–1976) architecture. The starting point of his design process was the character of the place, which he understood as both physical and social. From the perspective of landscape architecture, Aalto treated the immediate surroundings of his buildings as a continuum with the interior spaces and approached the broader surroundings from the landscape. He understood how landscape is sculpted from small-scale garden design to large-scale landscape design.

The exhibition opening at the Museum of Finnish Architecture deals with Aalto’s relationship with landscape – how he experienced it and how, in his own work, he took into consideration the topography and vegetation of the site. The university campuses in Otaniemi and Jyväskylä are good examples of how Aalto utilised the existing cultural environs when designing new. On the other hand, in Seinäjoki Aalto created a completely new landscape by sculpting the ground and varying the building heights.

The exhibition concept is conceived by Professor Emeritus Tom Simons and curated by researcher Teija Isohauta. In summer 2020, the exhibition will travel to the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä.