In 1934, Aino and Alvar Aalto acquired a site in almost completely untouched surroundings at Riihitie in Helsinki’s Munkkiniemi. Aino and Alvar Aalto designed the building, whose simple, natural materials soften the form language of modern architecture. Designing their own home gave them an opportunity to make various structural and material experiments. The Aalto House was completed in August 1936. Aalto’s architect’s office was in this building in Munkkiniemi until 1955.
Alvar Aalto lived in the house on Riihitie up until his death on 1976, and the building was used by the family long afterwards.The house, protected by the Act on the Protection of Buildings, is now part of the Alvar Aalto Foundation. Nowadays, the building is a home museum open to the public.
The house was designed as both a family home and an office and these two functions can clearly be seen from the outside. The studio and the family’s living areas have been discreetly separated from each other through choices of material. This can be seen in both the façades and the interiors.The slender mass of the office wing is in white-painted, lightly rendered brickwork. There are still clear references to Functionalism in the location of the windows. The cladding material of the residential part is slender, dark-stained timber battens. The building has a flat roof and a large south-facing terrace. The way that the rooms in this building with its closed street façade face in different directions has been carefully considered.
Although the street side elevation of the house is severe and closed-off, it is softened by climbing plants and a slate path leading up to the front door. There are already signs of the ‘new’ Aalto in the Aalto House, of the Romantic Functionalist. The plentiful use of wood as a finishing material and four open hearts built in brick also point to this. The Aalto House is a cosy, intimate building for living and working, designed by two architects for themselves, using simple uncluttered materials.
The Aalto House living room. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation
The studio and the family’s living areas have been discreetly separated from each other through choices of material on the facade. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation
The house was designed as both a family home and an office and these two functions can clearly be seen from the outside. The studio and the family’s living areas have been discreetly separated from each other through choices of material. This can be seen in both the façades and the interiors.
Destination on the map
1. The Aalto House
Information for visitors
Good to know
The Aalto House
The Aalto House is located in Munkkiniemi area in Helsinki on Riihitie 20. From the city centre of Helsinki you can take a tram number 4 to Munkkiniemi area. The closest stop to the house is called Laajalahden aukio. Please check timetables online from the journey planner.
You can visit Aalto’s home with a guided tour. It is highly recommended to book visit in advance online from Alvar Aalto Foundation’s webshop! There are tours available all year round almost daily. Tours lasts an hour and includes both the guided tour itself and free time to enjoy the special atmosphere in the house and explore the museum shop too. Please check times and exception in advance from Alvar Aalto Foundation webpage.
Please note, that you can also visit Studio Aalto which is also located in Munkkiniemi on Tiilimäki 20. Please check times and book your tickets online in advance!
Please note that you can purchase publications about The Aalto House as well as download architectural drawings from Alvar Aalto web shop!