La Dolce Vita: a Finnish show explores Alvar Aalto’s summer houses

La Dolce Vita: a Finnish show explores Alvar Aalto’s summer houses

When it comes to holiday bolthole settings, Finland has some of the best. Rich forests, fresh air and cool lakes make up for an invigorating landscape to relax and recharge - as well as the perfect scenery for some of the country’s most striking modern architecture. The Finnish countryside is home to some of Alvar Aalto’s best work.

This is also the focus of the Alvar Aalto Museum’s latest show, La dolce vita - Summer paradises by Alvar Aalto, on display in time for the 2015 Alvar Aalto Symposium, which took place last weekend. Looking at the grand master’s vacation house commissions, from one-off villas for friends and acquaintances to smaller cottages, country clubs and humble huts, built work and competition proposals, this exhibition has it all.

Tapping into a seminal page in the country’s architectural history, this theme is also a very important one in the Finnish society’s development in the past century. ’In a hundred years, Finland has become a land of half a million summer homes,’ explains Alvar Aalto Museum Curator Mari Murtoniemi. ’From the very beginning, Finns have sought inspiration for building from various sources, including the summer homes of artists and architects. There were even architectural competitions set up to create drawings for summer villas and weekend cottages.’

The show presents architectural photography, drawings and scale models of selected houses, as well as rare footage of Aalto’s family home videos, capturing them on holiday in the 1920s. On display at the museum’s main gallery in the Finnish town of Jyväskylä, La dolce vita celebrates the traditional Finnish way of spending the summer through a tour of Aalto’s subtly powerful designs.    

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