Alajärvi Town Hall

Among the Aalto sites in Alajärvi, the town hall is the largest and most prominent. The building’s facade is dominated by the large windows of the council chamber and the minimalist white walls. Construction of the Alajärvi town hall began in 1966 and it was completed a year later. The most impressive parts of the terrain-adaptive office building are the lobby and the council chamber. The council chamber is taller than the rest of the building and is adorned with windows of various sizes and shapes that let in the rays of the morning and evening sun.

Alvar Aalto approached his buildings as total works of art, where furniture and lighting were also important elements of the design. In the council chamber of the Alajärvi town hall, there are furnishings, tables, chairs, and lamps designed by Aalto, as well as seating in the foyer.

Aalto2 Museum Centre

Aalto2 is a unique meeting place for architecture, design and cultural heritage in Jyväskylä in the heart of Central Finland. It combines two buildings designed by Alvar Aalto: the Museum of Central Finland and Alvar Aalto Museum. The Museum of Central Finland (1959–1961, 1991) focuses on the cultural history and heritage of Central Finland. The Alvar Aalto Museum (1971–73) belongs to the Alvar Aalto Foundation and is custodian of the material and intellectual legacy of the world-famous architect and designer. The museum buildings are connected by a new, light-filled section designed by A-Konsultit Architects. The new part (completed in 2023) houses the museums’ shared social area as well as the Aalto2 Shop and Café.

Aalto2 fulfils Alvar Aalto´s wish to create a forum that brings together a variety of artforms. The Aalto2 Museum Centre seamlessly combines architecture, design, cultural heritage, art and science. The Museum Centre puts on an interesting, multifaceted exhibition programme, as well as new events for different target groups. Find out more about the Aalto2 Museum Centre on our website. The Museum Centre’s multifunctional facilities are superbly suited to business meetings and evening events.

The gems of Finnish aviation history in Vantaa

During this day tour you will learn about the history of Finnish aviation and get to admire a special Aalto destination in Vantaa. The Aviation Museum offers a lot to see and experience for both aviation enthusiasts and novices, and is ideal for a family trip. The museum displays approximately 70 aircrafts from different eras, as well as many other aviation-related artefacts such as engines and scale models. Visitors can get acquainted with travel, hobby and military Finnish aviation by touring the two large permanent exhibition halls and a third hall for changing exhibitions.

The architecturally significant terraced house complex Aerola, designed by Alvar Aalto, is also located in Vantaa, within the Veromies neighbourhood, and it is strongly linked to the history of the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The terraced houses were designed as apartments for the employees of Finnair’s predecessor Aero Oy, and they were built on Pyhtäänkorventie street during 1953–1955. Aerola’s terraced houses are also the only buildings designed by Aalto that are situated in Vantaa, and they are a valuable part of the city’s cultural heritage.

Nelimarkka Museum and Villa Väinölä in Alajärvi

Nelimarkka Museum

The Nelimarkka Museum in Alajärvi was founded by the painter and professor Eero Nelimarkka (1891-1977) in 1964. The building was designed by his friend, the architect Hilding Ekelund. Since 1995 it has functioned as the Regional Art Museum of Southern Ostrobothnia. It focuses on displaying regional Ostrobothnian art, but art education also plays an important role in its activities.

Temporary exhibitions, workshops and events for visitors of all ages are organized regularly. Since the mid-1980s the museum has also run an international residency program for artists. In the summertime you can enjoy coffee and cake in the light atmosphere of the museum’s: “Café de Nelimarkka”. The museum shop is open year-round. You can book a customized tour or a workshop at the museum. The Nelimarkka museum maintains as well the nearby Villa Nelimarkka and Villa Väinölä, located in the centre of Alajärvi.

Villa Väinölä

Alvar Aalto designed Villa Väinölä as his brother’s home and office. It is said that Aalto drew the first version of the building after his honeymoon to Italy. Villa Väinölä’s original plan, sketched in 1925, was based on drawings made by Aalto of ancient roman atriums witnessed in Italy. However, the plan was found to be too expensive and visionary to implement, so Aalto simplified the design according to his brother’s wishes, and a more affordable version of the building was completed in 1926. Aalto also designed an outbuilding at the north end of the main building, which was completed in 1938.

Väinö Aalto and his family moved away from Alajärvi in the early 1950s, and in 1952, the municipality of Alajärvi bought Villa Väinölä. During the ownership of the municipality of Alajärvi, an additional wing was added to the southern end of the building, in order to function as a reception area for a doctor’s office that operated in the Villa at the time. Villa Väinölä has at one time hosted also a tax office, a dental office and leisure offices of the municipality of Alajärvi, as well as housing and building inspection offices. The ownership of the building was moved over to the Nelimarkka Museum in 2015.

The latest renovation of Villa Väinölä was completed in the spring of 2018, and it was financed with the help of the National Board of Antiquities, Aisapari and the City of Alajärvi. Exhibitions, events and architectural residencies are currently organised at Villa Väinölä. Through the Nelimarkka Museum, the building can also be booked for meetings and private parties.

Seaside museums – Architecture, art and home museums by the sea!

A self-guided museum tour around the Laajalahti bay, outside the usual tourist routes, reveals seven unique museum sites that can be experienced together or separately. In addition to the scenic surroundings, the sites are united under interesting architecture and the fact that they have originally been homes and / or workspaces. The Didrichsen Art Museum, Villa Gyllenberg and Gallen-Kallela museums also feature significant art collections and changing exhibitions.

In Alvar Aalto’s home and office building in Munkkiniemi you can take part in guided tours all year round. Aficionados of architecture and design will get an insight into the interesting life of the Aalto family and everyday life of architects’ office. During the visit, you can also explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.

On a guided tour in Tamminiemi you will learn about the house’s most famous and longest-lived inhabitant: president Urho Kekkonen (1900–1986), and discover the original interiors and design from the 1970s. Tamminiemi’s legendary tar-smelling, seaside sauna can also be visited during the summer season.

The nearby Seurasaari open-air museum comes alive in the summer. The beautiful and fascinating traditional Finnish buildings, immersed into the magnificent natural setting of the island, constitute a favourite destination for both Helsinki locals and travellers around.

There are as many as two high-quality art museums on the small Kuusisaari island. The Didrichsen Art Museum has 2-3 changing exhibitions each year. The neighbouring Villa Gyllenberg features museum’s permanent collection which includes, amongst other masterpieces, 38 works by Helene Schjerfbeck. In addition, the museum also organises changing exhibitions. On Saturdays during the summer, Kuusisaari can be reached also by water bus running between Market Square in the city centre and Kuusisaari.

The northern shore of Laajalahti bay also offers exciting museum experiences, as well as a pleasant museum café where visitors can spend a relaxing moment. The Gallen-Kallela Museum, located in a castle-like villa designed by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, presents the art and life of Gallen-Kallela and his contemporaries with changing exhibitions, as well as exhibitions of contemporary art. From April you can also cycle to the museum on a city bike.

Experience Alvar Aalto’s architecture in Jyväskylä

During the tour you will experience some of the most iconic built environments designed by Alvar Aalto in a city that has more than earned its epithet, the Alvar Aalto capital of the world.

This tour in Jyväskylä takes you on a journey to a city featuring more works and designs from the different periods of the master architect’s career than any other location in the world. On this tour you will not only be seeing but also living the gems of Modernist architecture: sleep, eat and even swim within architecture.

During the tour you will experience some of the most iconic built environments designed by Alvar Aalto in a city that is called the capital city of Alvar Aalto’s architecture, as there’s the most Alvar Aalto building in the world. He opened his first office and started his family in Jyväskylä, he lived in the city for several years and built his beloved summer residence nearby. The city is also home to the world’s only Alvar Aalto Museum, which is located in a building designed by the architect himself.

During the tour, you will witness the different faces of Aalto’s oeuvre, from the early classicist style through the red-brick period to white monumentalism. Highlights of the tour include a stay in one of Aalto’s most significant works, Säynätsalo Town Hall, swimming in AaltoAlvari swimming hall, the oldest parts of which were designed by Aalto.

Cross Of The Plains and the Parish Centre

Aalto took part in a competition for a large church and parish centre announced by Seinäjoki parish in 1951, sending in an entry marked “Lakeuksien risti” (“Cross of the plains”).

Instead of placing the parish rooms under the church or in a smaller, separate building, as the other entrants had done, Aalto seized upon the big religious events commonly organized in Osthrobotnia in summer. He laid out a large piazza, loping down towards the church and girded by the parish facilities, in front of the church´s main facade. He laid out a large piazza, loping down towards the church and girded by the parish facilities, in front of the church´s main facade. This space-consuming solution obliged Aalto to exceed the prescribed construction limit by some twenty metres, which prevented the jury from awarding him a prize. The jury awarded Aalto´s entry a purchase and recommended it as the basis for implementation.

Aalto was commissioned to develop the plain further. The church was built between 1958 and 1960 and the large parish centre in front between 1964 and 1966. The church was basically build to the competition design, except that Aalto had hoped to use black granite as the facade material; for reasons of cost, however, he had to be content with brick rendered white, only the side chapel being faced with granite.

The main characteristics of the church complex are as follows: on the north side stands the campanile, 65 metres high, in the shape of a stylized cross. Monumentally vertical, visible from afar in the endless plains, it is the town´s symbol. The slightly wedge-shaped, symmetrical church interior is 47 metres long and provides seating for a congregation of 1400. The vestry lies behind the altar, and between it and the campanile is a tiny baptistery and wedding chapel with a stained-glass work by Aalto. Aalto also designed the church textiles and communion vessels.

The parish centre´s main divergence from the competition entry is the open staircase on an axis from the main facade of the church to the town hall square (built up later). This staircase separates the two wings of the building, which contain a large assembly hall, catering facilities for the congregation, a room for confirmation classes, a clubroom, offices, and several apartments for employees.

Maison Louis Carré

The Maison Louis Carré is one of the most carefully executed and detailed of the private houses designed by Alvar Aalto. Built for a wealthy Parisian art dealer and collector between 1959 and 1963, the house is situated in the small village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, in the historic rural landscape near Versailles and Chartres. Although the villa is an expression of Aalto at his most mature, it also embraces the youthful architectonic ideas of his second wife, Elissa Aalto.

Aalto was contacted in January of 1955 by a well-known French art dealer Louis Carré and his wife, who wished to build a villa of the highest artistic quality and material comfort on a large plot Carré had acquired near the village of Bazoches, overlooking a vast panorama that merges historical landmarks and the Forêt de Rambouillet. In addition to the architecture, Aalto was to be responsible for the furnishings – as exclusively designed as possible – and for the landscaping of the whole plot with terraces and plantings.

He designed a house under an immense lean-to roof made of blue Normandy slate, pitched in imitation of the landscape itself. The base and parts of the walls are Chartres limestone; whitewashed brick and marble were also used for the facades. Since the purpose of the house was partly to exhibit gems from the dealer’s stocks to prominent clients in an exclusive domestic milieu, the rooms were divided into an entertaining section and a service section, the bedrooms being connected with the latter. The spacious entrance hall, with large panels that provide surface for the display of art, has a free-form wooden ceiling built in situ by Finnish carpenters, who also realized the stepped wooden ceiling of the large living room. Here, one of the walls entirely opens onto the landscape thanks to a large panorama window.

Specially designed light fixtures, fixed and movable furnishings with many unique touches complete the interior, which rivals that of the Villa Mairea with its modern comfort and magnificent works of art. Mr. and Mrs. Carré’s separate bedrooms are also lavishly appointed, and connected to a Finnish sauna and an intimate garden area sheltered from the wind. The rising pitch of the roof from the kitchen area, office, and the luxurious guestroom makes space for an upper storey containing four bedrooms for the household staff.

The surrounding garden, with its many old trees, was landscaped by Aalto with a system of ‘turf stairs’ i.e., low grassy terraces supported by cleft tree trunks (quickly replaced by stone ones), similar to those used in the Säynätsalo municipal offices and Aalto’s own Experimental House. The garden also contains a theatre cavea built of slate, reminiscent of that enclosed by Aalto’s own architectural office building. A garage, partly embedded into the slope, and a swimming pool complete the picture. The Maison Carré was inaugurated in 1959, but work continued until 1961.

Seinäjoki Defence Corps building

The Defence Corps building was commissioned by the Southern Ostrobothnia Defence Corps, which used the three-storey building with mixed functions as its headquarters. The main building was originally used as offices for the Civil Guard of South Ostrobothnia and the Lotta Svärd Association. The top tier of the building was in residential use. 

The semi-subterranean ground floor, which contains a circular assembly hall, foyer and cloakroom, is built of stone; the office level and the residential storey (at the top with its own access stairs) are of wood. Together with the main building, a separate outbuilding was designed and erected on the other side of the courtyard. The ground floor of this two-storey building of rendered brick contains a garage, guardhouse, arms depot, sauna, and laundry; there are four small apartments in the upper storey. An unusual stair arrangement on both sides of the arched entrance provides separate access to most of the various facilities. One of the short sides of the courtyard is enclosed by a low wooden storehouse, designed some years later. The courtyard itself was intended as a drill and parade ground.

After the Second World War the building was re purposed for other uses. Since then many tenants have been operating in the building, including The Federation of Finnish youth association, a school and a travel agency. Nowadays the building is managed by the Provincial Museum of Southern Ostrobothnia. Currently it houses the Civil Guard and Lotta Svärd Museum. The main building holds museum exhibition and meeting spaces, an info booth and museum shop. The outbuilding has more exhibition spaces and a administration space for the museum.

The Defence Corps building has been preserved in its original condition and it’s buildings and their yard have also been protected under the law regarding building protection since 2002. 

The building represents refined neoclassicism and functionalist features as well as Ostrobothnian construction heritage. The building’s unusual stair hall, facade pilasters, and assembly hall painted in Pompeiian style make it one of the chief works of Alvar Aalto’s Neo-Classical period. Some part of the decorations in the buildings, including furniture, lamps and ornament details were also designed by Aalto. 

Aalto originally designed a loggia-like staircase for the end entrance, but it was not built.

The Suojeluskuntalainen statue, work by artist Pentti Papinaho is located in the yard of The Defence Corps building.

Alvar Aalto in Alajärvi – life and work

Alvar Aalto spent many summers in Alajärvi in his childhood and later had a summer house of his own. For Aalto, Alajärvi represented leisure time with family and relatives in contrast to the hectic work at the office. Aalto called this small rural town his spiritual home.

In the scenic Alajärvi one can see buildings from the long span of Aalto’s career, from the earliest assignments to the last of his office. At the Alajärvi Aalto Centre there are 11 locations, including the recently renovated Villa Väinölä, a home Aalto designed for his brother.

The countryside was his retreat during the busy creative years with the assignments and architectural competitions. Alajärvi is located near to Aalto’s childhood home Kuortane, so the region played an important role in his life.

The gems of Aalto’s architecture in Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Seinäjoki

Experience Jyväskylä the capital of Alvar Aalto’s architecture combined with Seinäjoki where Aalto also left an indelible mark.

Jyväskylä, which is located in the heart of the Finnish Lakeland boasts more Alvar Aalto buildings from different periods of his career than any other city in the world. Jyväskylä has thus really earned its title as the Capital Alvar Aalto ‘s Architecture.

Alvar Aalto has left an indelible mark also on the city of Seinäjoki, situated amid the open landscapes of Ostrobothnia. The Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki is a globally significant architectural complex at the cutting edge of modern architecture.

A visit to both cities will give an in-depth insight into Alvar Aalto’s architectural thinking through the decades, while also hearing exciting stories about Aalto not only as an architect but as a designer and a private person. During the tour, you will also see the beauty of the Finnish Lakeland and the vast open fields of Ostrobothnia and enjoy a glimpse of the traditional Finnish way of life in the two towns and the nearby countryside.

Guided tours in Jyväskylä

”Central Finland is often reminiscent of Toscana, the home of cities built on hills, and that provides a small clue about how classically beautifully this province could be built”, wrote Alvar Aalto almost a hundred years ago.

A deep interest in both the historical Latin cultural heritage and the demands of modern society was an enduring feature of Alvar Aalto’s thinking and work. Aalto always had a trip to Italy in mind – the trip he had once made or the journey he was in the process of planning. For him Italy represented something characterised by a sympathetic design world of human dimensions.

Now it is possible to explore the Jyväskylä Region’s fabulous scenery, enjoy the essence of Central Finland, and discover both its cities on hills and Aalto’s human-scale architecture on a variety of guided tours inspired by Italy and the master architect himself.