#22: Stalk the Aalto family in Munkkiniemi

All year, Alvar Aalto, Architecture, Helsinki, Uncategorized

Aalto’s house located in peaceful Munkkiniemi is definitely worth a visit. For me, Munkkiniemi had until yesterday been a place somewhere a bit further away, close to the hospital district – but it is, in fact, really fancy, not unlike for example the areas of Kulosaari or Lehtisaari. A lot of lavish villas from various periods and built in different architecture styles, full-grown trees, proximity of the sea and a sea promenade, well, when I win the lottery I might like to consider living there!

One of my future neighbour houses would be Alvar Aalto’s home (and office for some time) located at Riihitie 20, facing former cadet school, and is really pretty, even in early Finnish winter.

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I did not have the right lens to take pictures of the garden which constitutes an important part of the house. It was quite humble, but as the plot is located on a slope overlooking a football plan it feels really spacious and airy.

 

There is a little catch, and that would be that the house visit is not for free (except for the exterior, obviously), and Museokortti will not give you any discount this time. This house and the nearby Studio Aalto are managed by Aalto foundation, private management has its perks and downsides. The house is in mint condition, but there is a certain (affordable) price to pay for this;)

The interior is planned in a really rational and functional way, yet thanks to the use of natural materials (fabric, wood, reed mats, etc.) and traditional Nordic (and Japanese) elements it feels really homey and cosy. Maybe even too cosy this cold November afternoon due to the small number of lamps. The round roof openings letting natural light helped a bit, but the overall impression was Wow, it is dark in here, how can one sit comfortably in the sofa and read?

I’m a big fan of Aalto’s furniture and lamps, but I have my comments on the latter: they are beautiful, yet not very functional. I’m sorry. I understand that a part of the design was to conceal the source of light, and in this respect he succeeded, but maybe too much has been concealed..?

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… and some abstract artwork by Aalto:

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About a 10 minute walk from Aalto’s house, at Tiilimäki 20, you will find the Studio Aalto. Alvar Aalto ran the office from 1955 until his death in 1976. After that, the office continued under the leadership of Elissa Aalto until 1994 and today it houses the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Alvar Aalto Academy and the Alvar Aalto Museum Architectural Heritage. And it was closed yesterday, so I only managed to take a few peaks of the exterior:

And about 38 seconds away from Aalto Foundation House you will find those kind of views:miu_4352

That white patch in the top section of the picture is THE SUN. Very welcome that day.

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Come and visit some day. Really. Take a walk around Tiilimäki and the sea promenade, the atmosphere is so noble and peaceful.

I promise I will prepare a longer guide to Munkkiniemi one day, I just wanted to let you know that Aalto’s house is worth the visit, despite its non-central location.

Contact information: Tram 4 to last stop at Munkkiniemi, for more info see the website.

#4: Enjoy a guided tool at KELA headqurters (by Alvar Aalto) – !free Alvar Aalto fans gift!

All year, Alvar Aalto, Architecture, Helsinki, Indoors, Museum

Hey, this one I’m particularly proud of – and ashamed of at the same time since I cannot, for love of V, find any pictures from the epic tour at KELA Headquarters.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Now, those who have spent some time in Finland are loving this post already, so little it takes. The rest of you is wondering what on Earth is KELA. Well, KELA equals social insurance in Finland. It equals your magical personal number without which you mean nothing to the society (seriously though, your bank account details, your health care, your bonus card at K-supermarket, they all are linked to your personal number), confusion, dole, health care, queues, inefficient service, constant cuts … it also equals those adorable Maternity packages everybody has been envying Finnish mums for.

In other worse, everybody in Finland has their own passionate relationship with KELA. Visiting their HQ sounds like a brilliant way to spend your Friday afternoon, doesn’t it!

It is actually rather interesting. The building is orangey bricky and not too exciting at all from the outside, but then you start spotting the details, the door handles, the angles, colours, tiles, the light. There is a classic Aalto library in the building as well as a gym (no bull), a little chilling park area, oh and a really exciting canteen with some kind of innovative heating system which looks like dinner trays stuck to the ceiling. There is some introduction into 1920s communication technology and of course you will get to awe at those cute maternity packages from the past. It did not take more than an hour, and it was a true pleasure (although the guide kept abandoning us randomly and was not too knowledgable, but that did not matter too much in the end).

The building is located in Töölö and is reachable easily by tram or bus (Kansaneläkelaitos stop). I have not worked out the dates of the guided tours, let alone the English ones, but last time I checked it was 2pm every Monday and Friday during the summer season and by appointment 1.10.-31.3.

… oh and I promised you a gift! Well last time I went on the guided tour my camera died. Flat battery, argh, such a rookie mistake. I did indeed take some pictures with my phone, but those seem to be hiding in the gigabytes of data in this flat. Meh. I was feeling very “meh”, but then we were given a link to this beautiful publication with pictures and facts and it is all in English and I was really happy. And I’d love to share it with you, too.

More info: www.kela.fi, tel. 020 63411 (should work), viestinta (at) kela.fi ; the address is Nordenskiöldinkatu 12