Alvar Aalto


Along with Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was regularly regarded as one of the great masters of modern architecture. But unlike Le Corbusier who believed that ‘the house is a machine for living in’, Aalto adopted a more humanist approach, redressing the balance between nature, social needs and architecture in his design. “The mission of an architect is to give life a more sensitive structure, and to put the material world into harmony with human life,” he once wrote.

In partnership with the Alvar Aalto Foundation and the Embassy of Finland, the NUS Museum is presenting an exhibition on Alvar Aalto, with a focus on the single family houses that he had designed in his career spanning over 50 years. Although most of these 100 designs were realised, they received little attention in comparison to his monumental public buildings such as the Viipuri Library or Baker House Senior Dormitory. The only exceptions had been Villa Mairea, the Muuratsalo Experimental House and Aalto’s own house, which are commonly viewed to be an integral part of his architectural legacy.


For this exhibition, first year architecture students at the NUS School of Design and Environment were requested to compare any of these family houses to another designed by one of Aalto’s contemporaries – Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Geoffrey Bawa, Luis Barragan or Tadao Ando. The results, which include comparisons and analysis of floor plans as well as models of Aalto’s houses, are peppered throughout the gallery. Unsurprisingly, the most common comparison is that of Aalto’s Villa Mairea and Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, a seminal work which addressed his ‘five points of a new architecture’.

Alvar Aalto

If you are interested in product design, furniture and glassware designed by Aalto such as the iconic Aalto vase and Paimio chair are amongst the exhibits. Apart from his accomplishments in architecture, Alvar Aalto was also renowned as a designer for furniture and glassware and founded the furniture design firm Artek with his first wife, Aino Aalto.

This exhibition is on from 16 October to 8 December 2007.

University Cultural Centre (UCC)
50 Kent Ridge Crescent
National University of Singapore
Singapore 119279
Tel: (65) 6516 2492

NUS Museum



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