Helsinki Files 04: Show your [Modernist] School Spirit!

Accounting for the length of this post and my interests in multiple styles of music, below are two options of soundtracks for your enjoyment. Choose wisely, but feel free to scroll back up and play the other if you’d like more time to browse this post:

Option 1: This is another cover (I’m having trouble finding original songs to post) by a fellow from Germany (That is close enough to Finland, right?):

Option 2: You should have seen this coming…

aalto-university_cover_lecture-hall-exterior

Because of the significant amount of work Alvar Aalto had done for this University (formerly 3 different universities, if I understand the history correctly…), this school was named Aalto University and is home to some of the Finnish Architect’s masterpieces. The most prominent of which (in my mind) is the lecture hall pictured above (and below).

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Exterior Detail

As with most of Aalto’s work, the exterior of the building is a rather simple form.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Exterior 2

The interior is (as is typical per Aalto) clean and beautifully detailed.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Stairs

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Lobby

Aalto University_Lecture Hall_Outside Doors

The somewhat understated appearance of the exterior and interior spaces make the inside of the lecture hall that much more miraculous.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Interior

In case you are wondering, yes. That is a class taking a test. We quietly snuck in and distracted a hundred or so students with camera clicking and architectural “ooh-ing” and “awe-ing”.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Electric Lighting Detail

The cove lighting in the space was fantastic too!

After seeing a good sampling of Aalto’s work, it is in my opinion that the best work he does is library work.

Aalto University_Library Exterior

I think I particularly like it because the color of the books compliments his plain white and raw material aesthetics tremendously. Also his knack for daylighting strategies compliments the program of the typical library exceedingly well.

Aalto University_Library Front Desk

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 1

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 2

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 3

Aalto also seems to have the rare ability to define rooms within a space without the use of walls (I think this may be the sign of an architectural master, like Frank Lloyd Wright and the rest of the “Typical Architecture Hero” crew).

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 4

There are also other significant works of architecture on the campus done by architects other than Aalto. The Otaniemi Chapel by Heikki and Kaija Siren is another example of a beautiful, Finnish chapel.

Aalto University_Chapel Exterior

The cross is located just outside the chapel and is framed by a wall of glazing that also captures the nature surrounding the building.

Aalto University_Chapel Interior

The star of the show is the roof structure along which daylight spills into the space.

Aalto University_Chapel Roof Structure Detail

I don’t recall what this building is or if it is even architecturally significant. Its just a cool picture I guess.

Aalto University_Interesting Building

The student union building for the university is also noteworthy. Though I am still uncertain as to whether or not I like the building, I am certain that it is unique.

Aalto University_Student Union Exterior

The interior also has… things happening…

Aalto University_Student Union Interior

However, in my mind, the exterior is easier to photograph (a good measure of the quality of architecture? Probably not…).

Aalto University_Student Union Exterior 2

There is so much more that is happening on this campus that went un-documented, but I think this post probably hit all the high points!

We’ve got spirit, yes we do!

We’ve got spirit, how bout you?!

A

A

L-T-O

Goooooo Aalto!!!

(Traditional Finnish school spirit chant)

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4 thoughts on “Helsinki Files 04: Show your [Modernist] School Spirit!

  1. David says:

    Excellent post! Here are a pair of my photos from 1998, with my oldest daughter “using” the space:
    https://sanslartigue.wordpress.com/tag/otaniemi/

    • ohdesignblog says:

      Those are great David! Did you notice the one spot where a lecturer/performer might stand has special reverberation. Maybe the opposite of what someone using the space would want, but fun to hear your own voice right in your ear! Also, we caught a little bit more sun than it looks like you did (probably the only day during the trip with sun…).

      • David says:

        We were there very late in the evening, around 10pm, the end of June, right after Summer Solstice. Some sunny days, some overcast. We spent a week in Finland, and a week in Southern Italy. Contrasts 🙂

  2. Suvi says:

    I used to live in Otaniemi and got married in the chapel! 😀 Also, our daughter’s graduation was in the last building, Dipoli, last year. The cone in front was a lot of fun for her when she was a child, as there was a button to press and it opened and closed. Not sure if it works anymore..

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