1st Edition

Alvar Aalto and The Art of Landscape

By Teija Isohauta Copyright 2022
    202 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Alvar Aalto and The Art of Landscape captures the essence of the Finnish architect’s landscape concept, emphasising culture and tradition, which characterised his approach to and understanding of architecture as part of the wider environment. From the forests of his youth to sights from his travels, Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) was influenced by outdoor landscapes. Throughout his career, he felt the need to shape the terrain and this became a signature of his architecture. Divided into five chapters, this book traces Aalto’s relationship with landscape, starting with an analysis of his definitions and descriptions of landscape language, which ranged from natural references and biological terms, to synonyms and comparisons. It includes beautifully illustrated case study projects from the 1950s and 1960s, discussing Aalto’s transformation of different landscapes through topography, terracing and tiers, ruins and natural elements, horizon outlines, landmarks, and the repetition of form. Featuring archival sketches, garden drawings, and plans, the book also contains Aalto’s text ‘Architecture in the Landscape of Central Finland’ from 1925 in the appendix. This book provides fascinating, untold insights into Aalto’s relationship with landscape and how this developed during his lifetime, for scholars, researchers, and students interested in architecture and landscape history, landscape art, and cultural studies.


    Preface by Jussi Rautsi




    Biology and nature

    Garden and architecture


    The Finnish national landscape

    Light and shadow in Alvar Aalto’s architecture

    The garden art as part of landscape

    The holistic approach in Aalto’s architecture

    Riihitie House

    The garden city movement


    The re-evaluated landscape

    The shifting contours in Aalto’s architecture

    Muurame Church

    The room in between

    Muuratsalo experimental house

    Towards a modern landscape

    Paimio Sanatorium

    The forerunners of Nordic landscape architecture, the contemporaries of Aalto

    Garden designers consulting Aalto

    Ateljee Aalto

    The Japanese reconstructed landscape

    Authenticity of materials and forms in Aalto’s architecture

    Villa Mairea

    The Mediterranean landscape

    The constructed landscape of Aalto

    Jyväskylä university

    A side track to the Orient

    National pensions Institute

    The United States – genius loci and the raised importance of spatial planning

    Aerial plans and greeneries

    Oulu river rapids centre


    The Modern art in Aalto’s time


    The role of sketching

    Salpausselkä relief and Suommussalmi war memorial

    Shaping the terrain as an attribute in Aalto’s architecture

    Säynätsalo Town Hall

    Toward ‘monumental art’



    Green flexibility – Master plans of Imatra and Lapland

    Two sides of Urbanism – Helsinki City Centre and satellite centre Stensvik

    Two town halls using the best out of landscape – Kiruna and Alajärvi

    Cultural projects – in a valley and on top – Nordic House and Shiraz Art museum

    Churches as landmarks – Riola di Vergato and in Lahti

    The private houses on the slope – Maison Carré and Villa Kokkonen

    CONCLUSIONS Featuring landscape

    ALVAR AALTO Architecture in the Landscape of Central Finland, 1926

    CHRONOLOGY Aalto’s main projects related to his writings, travels and personal contacts



    Teija Isohauta worked as a curator of education at the Alvar Aalto Museum between 1986 and 2009. As freelancer she has worked on exhibitions at Alvar Aalto Museum and the Finnish Architecture Museum. She received a scholarship from the Finnish Culture Foundation to investigate deeper connections between Aalto and landscape, and has an MA from Jyväskylä University, Finland.