Tour Alvar Aalto’s modernist architecture in Jyvaskyla, Finland

Tour Alvar Aalto’s modernist architecture in Jyvaskyla, Finland

Trace the lens of photographer Janne Tuunanen, who explores Alvar Aalto’s modernist architecture in Jyvaskyla in his latest series on the city

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

‘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. §

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