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18 March 2021

13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

  • The Aalto House (1935-36) interior Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Finlandia Hall, Facade, Helsinki 1962_ 1967-75. Photo Rune Snellman, Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Social Insurance Institute (1953-56), Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • House of Culture (1952-58), inner courtyard, Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • University of Jyväskylä, main building (1954-56), Jyväskylä. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Muuratsalo Experimental House (1952-54) Jyväskylä. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Paimio Sanatorium, Main Entrance (1929-33). Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Seinäjoki Civic Centre, Aalto Library (1960-65). Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Sunila Pulp Mill and Residential Area (1936-38, 1947), Kotka. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Säynätsalo Town Hall, Jyväskylä 1949-52. Photo Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Villa Mairea (1938-39), Noormarkku. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • The Church of the Three Crosses (1956-58) interior, Vuoksenniska, Imatra. Photo Pinja Eerola, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • The Aalto House (1935-36) interior Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Finlandia Hall, Facade, Helsinki 1962_ 1967-75. Photo Rune Snellman, Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Social Insurance Institute (1953-56), Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • House of Culture (1952-58), inner courtyard, Helsinki. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • University of Jyväskylä, main building (1954-56), Jyväskylä. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Muuratsalo Experimental House (1952-54) Jyväskylä. Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Paimio Sanatorium, Main Entrance (1929-33). Photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Seinäjoki Civic Centre, Aalto Library (1960-65). Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Sunila Pulp Mill and Residential Area (1936-38, 1947), Kotka. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • Säynätsalo Town Hall, Jyväskylä 1949-52. Photo Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Foundation
  • Villa Mairea (1938-39), Noormarkku. Photo Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.
  • The Church of the Three Crosses (1956-58) interior, Vuoksenniska, Imatra. Photo Pinja Eerola, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Finland is updating its tentative list in line with the World Heritage Agreement. The process supports Alvar Aalto Foundation’s long-term work on preserving and protecting architectural heritage.
In the first phase, the proposal consists of 13 modern Finnish buildings or districts designed by Alvar Aalto’s architecture studio, which form a coherent whole that, according to the experts’ assessment, has a chance of inclusion in the World Heritage List. The set of sites may change during the production of the actual World Heritage List proposal. Four of the thirteen nominated sites are member houses of the Iconic Houses Network. The nominated sites are: Studio Aalto; The Aalto House; Finlandia Hall; Social Insurance Institution Main Office; House of Culture; University of Jyväskylä, Aalto Campus; Muuratsalo Experimental House; Paimio Sanatorium; Seinäjoki Civic Centre; Sunila Pulp Mill Residential Area; Säynätsalo Town Hall; Villa Mairea; and the Church of the Three Crosses, aka Vuoksenniska Church.

This series of modern sites designed by Alvar Aalto’s architecture studio have been included in the Finnish Tentative list because Finland believes they have a good chance of becoming inscribed in the World Heritage List. Aalto’s buildings represent the global cultural heritage of the Modern Movement, while at the same time reflecting the development of the construction of the Finnish welfare state and a comprehensive design approach.

“Aalto already began moving away from mechanistic functionalism early on, in the 1930s. The focal point of the design became the user – the individual and the community – whose overall wellbeing was targeted with the aid of architecture. This humane approach attracted international attention and appreciation right from the start, and this trend significantly influenced the development of Finnish architecture – and still does today,” says Alvar Aalto Foundation architect Jonas Malmberg.

In the year 2000, the Alvar Aalto Foundation made a decision to propose Aalto’s architecture for the World Heritage List and, on the centenary of Alvar Aalto’s birth in 1998, proposed the official protection of all of Aalto’s buildings. The Foundation’s long-term work on preserving and protecting architectural heritage has expanded into a fruitful collaboration with an international network of Alvar Aalto cities.

“The Alvar Aalto Foundation supports the pursuit of World Heritage status. The full series is still limited, and in practice cannot include all the sites that are considered important. Nevertheless, it will add to interest in Aalto’s production as a whole, and in the Finnish architectural heritage. World Heritage offers a variety of opportunities for architecture education, exhibitions and events, tourism, built heritage work, and international collaboration.” Lindh says.

"The Iconic Houses Network wholeheartedly supports the nomination of the Aalto sites and would be delighted and also finds it more than logical for Alvar Aalto to join the premier league of architecture on the World Heritage List as the most important representative of Nordic Modernism. Taken together, even only his houses offer a wonderful insight into a 50-year career characterized by a style that blended modernism and traditional vernacular architecture and featured natural materials and organic forms.' Natascha Drabbe says.

The UNESCO World Heritage List currently includes significant houses from the 20th-Century by eight architects that are represented in the Iconic Houses Network: Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bruno Taut, Victor Horta, Antoni Gaudí, Luis Barragán and Gerrit Rietveld.

Four of our member houses of the seventeen inscribed works by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier:

We are proud that three of our member houses are inscribed as part of the eight buildings that represent the 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States:

Housing Estates are represented by Taut’s Home in the ‘Horseshoe Estate’ by Bruno Taut in Berlin. Also the Horta Museum is inscribed as part of the Major Town Houses of Victor Horta in Brussels; our member Casa Milá/La Pedrera is UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Works of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona; and last but not least these single houses, Villa Tugendhat by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Brno, Luis Barragán House and Studio in Mexico-City and the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht are joining this premiere league in architecturally signifcant works.

For further information about World Heritage follow the link to the UNESCO website.

Posted 18 March 2021