Six of Alvar Aalto’s projects in Germany were completed: two churches, two residential buildings and two cultural buildings. This contrasts with eight designs for public building projects that could not be realised – town halls, city centres, development plans and commercial office buildings. The exhibition “Alvar Aalto in Germany: Drawn Modernism” in the “Museum für Architekturzeichnung” of the Tchoban Foundation in Berlin, in cooperation with the Alvar Aalto Foundation, presents more than 70 works by the renowned Finnish architects Alvar (1898 to 1976) and Elissa Aalto (1922 to 1994) and their architectural office until 14 January 2024. Original drawings of all 14 projects in Germany span the period from the 1950s, when Alvar Aalto was invited to participate in the post-World War II reconstruction, to the 1980s, when his wife Elissa completed several major projects that had remained unfinished after her husband’s death in 1976. The drawings also document the relationship that Alvar Aalto cultivated with Germany and German building culture from his youth until his death, and which Elissa Aalto continued.
The drawings, according to the museum, showed “that paper was an indispensable foundation for the members of the Aalto studio that kept the creative process going. They are therefore beautiful without being self-indulgent: The visual appeal is a by-product rather than the goal of the design process.” The first project sketches in particular illustrate “how dissolute, collaborative and spontaneous the drawing was in the studio”. It is also clear, he says, how a project developed from the early, often untamed sketches to the filigree, carefully crafted working drawings. The exhibition is divided into four themes: While “Natural and Urban Topographies” and “Projection of Identity” are dedicated to urban planning, “Limits of the Sacred” and “Humanising Standardisation” focus on specific architectural programmes and the challenges associated with their design.
The show was made possible by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Impact Fund of the University of Cambridge. It was curated by Dr Sofia Singler, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Timo Riekko, Senior Curator at the Alvar Aalto Foundation, and Nadejda Bartels, Director of the Tchoban Foundation. The exhibition design is by Studio Anna Andrich from London, the graphics by Annika Paetsch from the Tchoban Foundation. The 168-page catalogue, edited by Nadejda Bartels in German and English, costs 29 euros at the museum.
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