Alvar Aalto - Finland
Tapiola Apartment Buildings
Harjuviita, Espoo (Helsinki)
1961 - 1967

  In the west of Helsinki Alvar Aalto designed a group of seven apartment buildings for the prototype city Tapiola. Implementation of the Tapiola Garden City started in the early 1950s. Main design principle for this area was to bring together nature and building. The experiments of the various architects were intended to serve for the definition of new guidlines for apartment constructions. Alvar Aalto's design for Tapiola is based on an earlier design for the residential settlement Nynäshamn (Sweden) from 1946. At this time, Alvar Aalto was thinking about the problem of building tall tower blocks for residential use. Even if he clearly favored other building forms, he was aware that it was not possible to solve the problem of residential building by using only the ideal solution of low constructions. Alvar Aalto was convinced, that the relationship between built environement and landscape as well as the structure of the society were crucial for the success of tall multistorey residential buildings. As a consequence Alvar Aalto had the ambition to offer more spacious dwellings and an ideal orientation with regards to light and views within tall buildings.

The seven point blocks by Alvar Aalto are situated east of the Otsonlahti Bay, standing on the summit of a rocky ridge. The construction are naturally embeded within the terrain, which is in its natural state up to a large extent. This arrangement gives the building an important part in the overall landscape and silhoutte. On the exterior the seven-storey brick-faced constructions were painted in a light tone. The buildings, which are arranged in two spacious clusters, were realized in the 1960s building stage, and follow the above mentioned intentions by Alvar Aalto. The buildings were realized in different stages and partly even by different builders, but fortunately they still create a uniform group. The flats are oriented towards the light and feature nice views of the sea. The apartments remember the Berlin Interbau building from 1957. The inhabitants were provided with a privat external space by the deep atrium-like balconies.