Tour Alvar Aalto's modernist architecture in Jyvaskyla, Finland

Jyvaskyla City Theatre
Jyvaskyla City Theatre
(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

When Finnish photographer Janne Tuunanen travelled from his base in New York to his home town of Jyvaskyla at the start of the pandemic, his plan was to take some time to slow down and spend the crisis closer to his family there. Soon, he picked up cycling and riding around town he rediscovered, after years of being away, the modernist architecture of Alvar Aalto; this lesser known, sleepy town in the western part of the Finnish Lakeland, is a treasure trove of the master architect's work.

‘I thought there might be material for a bigger project here,' he says. ‘I approached the Alvar Aalto Foundation about the project and they approved my pitch.' Tuunanen went on to create 17 images of Aalto's masterpieces in the vicinity, including the architect's own Experimental House and Jyvaskyla's main theatre, swimming pool hall and the local Museum of Central Finland.

Experimental House in forest

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

‘It was my first time shooting Aalto and I felt I could bring a new angle to it,' he says. ‘Most of the existing photos of Aalto locations before this project are very documentation orientated. I thought there is a possibility to photograph them in a more visual manner, bring attention to details and focus on angles that haven't been used yet.'

The project, named simply ‘Alvar Aalto's Jyvaskyla', is a limited series and feels to Tuunanen as much a homage to the great architect's modernist work, as a personal tribute to the photographer's own hometown. 

Tuunanen has used architectural elements in his work before, but never had the chance to create a project entirely focused on buildings. in fact, the series inspired him to take on more architectural work; he recently shot the newly renovated 1952 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, which combines modern design with mid-century architecture.

Former Central Police Station

Former Central Police Station

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Jyvaskyla City Swimming Hall

Jyvaskyla City Swimming Hall

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Lozzi Restaurant at the University Campus 

Lozzi Restaurant at the University Campus

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Street Light outside the Museum of Central Finland

Street Light outside the Museum of Central Finland

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Museum of Central Finland interior

Museum of Central Finland, interior

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Museum of Central Finland exterior

Museum of Central Finland, exterior

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Muurame Church by Alvar Aalto

Muurame Church

(Image credit: Janne Tuunanen)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).

With contributions from