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The Idea of the Primary Stage in Alvar Aalto’s Drawings Through the Analysis of the Design Process of “Vuoksenniska Church (1955–1958)”

Mihoko Ando

Working paper
Alvar Aalto Researchers Network 2012

This paper aims to clarify the design process of "Church in Vuoksenniska" by Alvar Aalto.

The following is the analysis of the design process.

The design process can be divided into four terms: the first term, the second term, the third term and the fourth term.The architectural form in the first term was consistent with the form in the fourth term.The first term can be divided into four forms: the trapezoid, the three fan-shaped forms, the rough arc and the arc.The design process has a relation with his past works, such as 'Seinäjoki church' and 'bent wood'.

Throughout this paper the word term is used to refer to the phases that each plan undergoes.

1. Introduction

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is one of the most principled architects of the 20th century. He developed various designs for urban environment, architecture, furniture, and other living environmental aspects.

The ideas of his architectural works have been investigated by many researchers. Researches have consistently shown the necessity of clarifying the design process of his work, in order to observe his architectural ideas.

These main observations are as follows.

Ogawa1 (2004) analyzed the design process of 'Villa Mairea (1938)'. She investigated morphological analyses, dividing the changing forms of the plan. In her study, she dealt with all drawings related to the house except the sketches, taking special notice of the characteristics and changes made to the plan regarding individual spaces and forms of element. She analyzed Aalto's methodology concerning the morphological designs, such as the court, inside spaces and outside. She concluded his organic forms in his methodology appeared in the final term in this house. Maeda2 (2001) analyzed the plan of his houses using his drawings and his writings. He explored Aalto's methodological concept, through the analysis of the processes of form modifications in Aalto's fifteen houses, such as 'Villa Mairea (1938)', 'Aalto's own house (1935)', 'experimental house (1952)'. He explored the thematic explanation of both the internal system of the form of houses and the connection between the house and nature. He concluded that the form of an enclosure of his houses is at the key of our understanding of Aalto's architectural form. Observations by Pallasmaa3 (1977) described Aalto's ideas using both the drawings of 'Vuoksenniska Church' and his writings, in order to investigate his entire design process. He explained one of the drawings of this Church and pointed out Aalto's ideas, such as the form of the lamp, the windows, the handrail, and the plan. He analyzed that these appeared in one of his drawings altogether at the same time.

Ogawa's study is limited only to the study of 'Villa Mairea' and did not describe Aalto's ideas of the design process. Maeda's study was restricted to his houses. Although Pallasmaa extensively studied Aalto's design process by examining the drawings taken from a wide range of Aalto's works, he did not analyze the entire design process of Vuoksenniska Church in detail.

These studies further serve our purpose. However, there are no existing studies focusing on his drawings of 'Vuoksenniska Church' and analysis of the design process.

In order to clarify Aalto's architectural idea of the design process, we explore Aalto's drawings, particularly focusing on the early stages of his drawings. It is desirable to investigate his ideas in the design process, so as to lead to new possibilities in creating harmony between nature, architecture and furniture.

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Mihoko Ando
Doctoral student
a_mhk(at)hotmail.com

Dept. of Architecture and Architectural Engineering, Graduate school of Engineering, Kyoto University

The Idea of the Primary Stage in Alvar Aalto’s Drawings Through the Analysis of the Design Process of “Vuoksenniska Church (1955–1958)”