Inside Iconic Houses Tours are back! Isokon Building 18 November

Inside Iconic Houses - Live Online Tour Program

Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

Portraits of the Architect - Interview with Gennaro Postiglione

Test Labs for New Ideas - Interview with Natascha Drabbe

New Chairman Architect Nanne de Ru on The Perfect Platform

Health and Home - Interview with Beatriz Colomina

A Life Less Ordinary – Interview with Valentijn Carbo

Invisible Women - Interview with Alice T. Friedman

Winy Maas on the Green Dip

Anita Blom on Experimental Housing of the 1970s

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

The Culture of Living - Interview with Robert von der Nahmer

Hetty Berens: A Fresh Take on Modernism

Niek Smit on Supporting Modern Heritage

Alice Roegholt on Amsterdam’s Working-Class Palaces

July is Iconic Houses Month

Save Maison Zilveli - Sign the Petition!

How a Building Tells a Story - Recorded Event

Toolkit for Owners of a Modern House

13 Aalto Sites Nominated for UNESCO World Heritage

Villa Beer At Risk - Sign the Petition!

Business Cards of Stone, Timber and Concrete in the Brussels Region 1830-1970

Exhibiting & Visiting Modernist Monuments

Fostering Well-Researched Responsible Design


Enjoy a virtual visit to the California House and a Q&A with architect Peter Gluck

Exhibition 'Modernism and Refuge'

A Hidden Gem of Postmodernism

New Centre for Historic Houses of India

An Online Chronicle of the Douglas House

SPECIAL – Northern (High)Lights!

SPECIAL - Casas Icónicas en España!

SPECIAL - Vacances en France!

SPECIAL – Iconic Dreams - Sleep in an Iconic House!

SPECIAL – Dutch Delights!

SPECIAL – German Greats!

Villa Henny, geometric style icon in The Netherlands

A Mendini temple in Amsterdam

IH-lectures USA & Canada Feb 2020 on Melnikov House

An Afternoon with the Glucks

Danish Moderns – Looking Back at Our Mini-Seminar

Venturo house complements Exhibition Centre WeeGee’s offering

Lecture report: Remembering Richard Neutra

Hôtel Mezzara and the Guimard Museum project

We welcome 13 new members!

BREAKING NEWS: 8 Wright Sites Inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List!

LECTURE 29 August - Raymond Neutra: My Father and Frank Lloyd Wright

Iconic Reads

SPECIAL – Iconic Artist Residencies

Our Badge of Honour

SPECIAL – Women & Iconic Houses

SPECIAL – Iconic Housing

Iconic Houses End Year Message

City-ordered rebuild of landmark house stirs debate: Appropriate or overreach?

Kohlberg House Restoration in Progress

Planned Demolition of Rietveld Homes in Reeuwijk

Renovation Gili House in Crisis

An Iconic Saga

Restoring Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027 and Clarifying the Controversies

Modernism on the East Coast

Iconic Houses in Latin America

House Tours May 2018 

Expert Meetings

Terence Riley -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Philip Johnson

New era for Villa E-1027 and Cap Moderne

Jorge Liernur -KEYNOTE SPEAKER- on Latin American Modernism(s)

Restoring the past: The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Home Studio

Behind the Scenes: Hendrick de Keyser Association

Latin America Special – Focus on Mexico

De Stijl in Drachten

Preserving the Nancarrow House-Studio

Meet the Friends - Nanne de Ru

Latin America Special – Focus on Brazil

Jan de Jong’s House is Latest Hendrick de Keyser Acquisition

Stay in a Belgian Modernist Masterpiece

In Berlin’s Modernist Network

Rietveld-Schröder House Celebrates De Stijl Anniversary

Meet Our New Foundation Board Members

Virtual Tour of a Papaverhof Home in 3D

Getty Grant for Villa E-1027

Iconic Dacha

11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List

At home with Le Corbusier

Wright Plus 2016 Walk

Speaking Volumes: Building the Iconic Houses Library

Follow us!

Documentary La Ricarda

Rent a house designed by Gerrit Rietveld

Barragán House on Screen

Gesamtkunstwerk – An Icon on the Move

Triennale der Moderne 27 September - 13 October 2013

Prestigious Art Nouveau mansions in Brussels open

September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris

June's New Arrivals: Museum Apartments

Iconic Houses is now on Twitter and Facebook

Corbu’s Cabanon: Reconstruction and Lecture

Projekt Mies In Krefeld: Life-sized model of the Krefeld Clubhouse

New arrivals: Spain special

MAMO: Le Corbu’s ‘Park in the Sky’ open 12 June

Annual Wright Architectural Housewalk: 18 May

Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Screen

Message from the Editor

Neutra’s House on Screen

Melnikov House on Screen

Iconic Houses in the media

Message from the Editor

Eileen Gray House on Screen

Copy Culture

At Home in the 20th Century

New 20th century Iconic Houses website launches

20 December 2016

Maintaining Aalto's Studio – Linoleum Conservation

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) designed the building at Tiilimäki 20 in Munkkiniemi as his own office in 1955. Because of several large commissions, the office needed more space to work in. The building is near Aalto's own house, where the office had previously been located. Both Studio Aalto and the Aalto House are members of the Iconic Houses Network.

Author: Jonas Malmberg, MSc (arch.), M.A. / Alvar Aalto Foundation

Studio Aalto in the 1950s (Havas / Alvar Aalto Museum).

The white-rendered building conceals an inner garden shaped like an amphitheatre. The office staff could sit on the slate steps of the amphitheatre, listen to lectures or watch slide shows projected on the white wall. The last being seldom used due to the light summer nights and cold winters.

Studio Aalto.

The main space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows. And prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall. The slanting bay window of the meeting room creates the perfect conditions for examining drawings.
On the upper floor, there is a drawing office on a narrow plan, beautifully encircled by natural light from a band of high-level windows. In 1962–1963 the building was extended by building a dining room for the staff, the 'Taverna', with an office above it.
Alvar Aalto ran the office until his death in 1976. After that, the office continued under the leadership of Elissa Aalto until 1994. The building came into the custodianship of the Alvar Aalto Foundation in 1984 and today it houses the Foundation.
Conservation issues
The major restoration of the Studio building was completed by architects Eric Adlercreutz and Hasse Hägerström in 2005. Since that the procedure of constant maintaining has been taken place. For example, most of the exteriors have been recently repainted. And the timber built shelter and the fences in the courtyard were restored last summer.

Maintaining works in the summer of 2012; installing the glass of the meeting room bay window.

The principle in the actions has been set so that each year some interventions are executed, but the building shall keep its patina, appearance and feeling. Each restoration work is carefully studied and best practices are followed. Also, economical restrictions are met since minor annual projects are well affordable on limited budgets.
Original linoleums

Most of the major spaces in the Studio have linoleum floors, all of those being still original with multiple minor dents and traces witnessing the decades of life. Due to the daily work in the building the conservation of the original linoleum floors has been scheduled over several years.

Dirt or patina in the middle of the floor prior to the process?

The first preliminary test of the cleaning was done in 2013 by conservator Heli Ketomäki, who has been leading also the later works. In the test the methods were studied in a limited area so that the right level of intervention was found. The original linoleum shall keep its’ fascinating 60-year-old patina but become clean and protected by traditional wax treatment.
The main space in the Studio used to be Aalto’s own office, which has a cream white linoleum flooring. Over the decades, the linoleum had become dark and dirty, and partly detached from the concrete base. In the late autumn 2015 Ketomäki and her group carefully glued the loose parts and removed the dirt and several layers of wax.

The glue was drying under the weights.

This manual work was relatively slow as no large scale machinery could be used, and all the corners were cleaned manually. But due to the preliminary test work suitable methods were found rapidly and the space got back the warm tone of light reflecting from the polished floor.

The cleaned and uncleaned linoleum during the process.

Only small scale tools were used in the polishing.

The beautiful warm tone of the light after the conservation.

The next step will take place in the winter 2016 as Ketomäki will continue the process. The next actions will take place in the original meeting room and office spaces originally used by the architects working for Alvar Aalto.
Also, this time some preliminary tests are necessary. First the colour of the linoleum is relatively dark, thus the method shall be adjusted so that the result is uniform enough. Secondly there is a major crack in the middle of the floor as the building has settled down and created a necessary contraction joint. This will mean more gluing than was needed in the main space.

The next space where the original linoleum will be conserved.

Maintaining and conserving an iconic building, like Studio Aalto, needs understanding of the old building materials and their patina. Our goal is to keep the building alive also for the becoming generations without losing neither the old materials nor the fascinating feeling of the office – still serving as the place for our everyday work.

Publication date 20 December 2016