Alvar Aalto - Finland
Aira Apartment Building
Tapionkatu 2, Jyväskylä
1924 - 1926

This apartment building, designed by Alvar Aalto was errected as housing for railway officials, and is located north of the grid-plan structure of Jyväskylä. It was the first residential design by Alvar Aalto for the lower middle-class conditions. The building is arranged along the street, and appears as a three storey volume. The acces to the three stairwells is made by the rear yard side, with the entrances arranged half a storey below the first apartment level, but a few steps above terrain. Each entrance is covered with two small balconies. The building contains only one apartment type, which extends the whole depth of the building and features two rooms and a kitchen. On each level there are two apartments arragend symmetrically on each side the stairwell, resulting a total of six flats per floor. Each apartments features two entrances, giving them a somewhat burgeois character. The apartments are rather simple and typical for their time, but at the same time their spatial character is enriched by some details, such as a curved recess for a wardrobe in the entrance area, detailing of the doors and a fake perspective which results from the wall between bedroom and kitchen. The exterior of the building is characterized by the special treatment of the surfaces. There is an almost transparent render, making the unevennes of the brick surface visible. Minor details, which appear almost abstract or even humoristic are related to the spirit of the 1920s classicism. For example, one recognizes strongly coloured eaves soffit, a spiralling vine decoration painted along the downpipes and arch motifs above the external doors and basement windows.