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The Health, Safety and Comfort Advantages of Low Temperature Heating Systems - A Literature Review, Healthy Buildings Conference, August 2000

 

Workshop 24: Alvar Aalto as a Healthy Building Architect, Healthy Buildings Conference, August 2000

 

"Aalto was a master with his architectural pallet when constructing his existentially comforting, physiologically soothing, and mentally sound buildings, which were organically "whole", from the master plans to the smallest details. A house can also smell, sound and feel good. And when doing so, it can help man to understand his place in the world better."

   What makes a good architect?

Workshop 24: Alvar Aalto as a Healthy Building Architect
Credit source: Healthy Buildings Conference, August 2000

Chairpersons Hal Levin, Building Ecology Research Group, USA
Gunnel Adlercreutz, Building Information Institute, Finland
Scientific secretary Jesse Anttila, architect, Finland

The following is an excerpt from the proceedings - we provide it here to illustrate the role of the architect and healthy buildings.

Aalto (the architect) at the beginning of his career was very keen on improving the whole society by improving the quality of everyday life with the means of solving housing problems. Aalto was strongly linked to the European modernistic architectural movement. Modern building technology with new construction methods and materials was emphasized by him and his colleagues. But for Aalto, the strong underlying theme was rich and human, physically and psychologically harmonious architecture. He was not a dogmatic functionalist but always stressed tradition's importance for the human mind. Aalto was a master with his architectural pallet when constructing his existentially comforting, physiologically soothing, and mentally sound buildings, which were organically "whole", from the master plans to the smallest details. A house can also smell, sound and feel good. And when doing so, it can help man to understand his place in the world better.

If one derives body and mind when talking about the term "healthy building", one can try to examine how Aalto's work functioned, and is functioning, on the technical field of building construction. Seems that in his early career in the 1930's, technical solutions were tried over the generations of builders and the craftsmanship was still a virtue of its own. When the new modern technology met with different new experts and new, not thoroughly tried materials, a balance with the architecture and the materials was violated. Although the latest knowledge of the time was used when constructing, the effort to master nature's physical laws by theoretically developed solutions was many a time unsuccessful. Aalto's interest turned monumental and sculptural from the ordinary, the individual artist came through in his personality.

World is troubled and a construction work is a universe of its own. Different opposite powers are struggling with each other. And when the construction ends, the maintenance should begin. Buildings can be made to grow unhealthy. In Aalto's case, there are tens of examples of how the poor understanding of the buildings life span and the lack of respect can cause serious damage first to the house and soon after to the inhabitants. The lack of understanding, or many times interest, when making reparations has caused many Aalto's buildings to grow sick. This does not mean that a building could not go through needy reparations and possible alterations but this should be done with the appropriate knowledge. Ironically, many times problems are solved by removing new solutions, and constructing with aged and tried materials and ways.

As usual, there are no simple answers or ways to conclude Aalto's long career as a healthy building architect. One might say, that a good architect is a healthy building architect. And Aalto was a good architect.

 

 

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