Scandinavian Time, The Voyage of Raúl Hestnes Ferreira to Finland and the Inference of Alvar Aalto's Work in Portuguese Architecture During the Post-War II Period

Patrícia Miguel

Working paper
Alvar Aalto Researchers Network 2012


Scandinavian Time refers to the relevant inference occurred during the 50's in Portugal with the dissemination of Nordic architecture, mostly the publications of the writings and work of Alvar Aalto. Also refers, more specifically, to the voyage of the architect Raúl Hestnes Ferreira to Finland, between 1957 and 1958 – a significant journey, because it directs us to that very moment when the Portuguese architects acquire operative awareness of the heterodoxy and possibilities of the modern.

Raúl Hestnes, after completing the Special Architecture's Course in the School of Fine Arts at Oporto, and disillusioned with the expe- rienced during the years of dictatorship, decides to visit Nordic countries in order to live the architecture, particularly that of Alvar Aalto. So, he goes from Portugal towards Oslo, Kristiansund, Trondheim, then to Stockholm, where he takes a boat to Finland. Arrives in Helsinki on the death ́s day of the composer Sibelius, the September 20, 1957. Settles in Teekkarikylä in Otaniemi. Later, he studies architecture with Heikki Siren at Helsinki University of Technology and works with Woldemar Baekman, down the street from the atelier of Aalto, who Hestnes visits several times. For a year, he visits and studies Aalto's works in the city and, to ride, outside: Imatra, Jyväskylä, Säynätsalo, Muuratsalo, Noormarkku, Turku, Paimio, Sunila.

This research is focused on this itinerary - in what Raul Hestnes saw, as he saw, as he recorded what he saw, as he thought of what he has seen – but also in the understanding of this trip as an evident representation of a key-movement in Portuguese Architecture - the vivid, experienced hand, of an event that somehow was starting to be drawn. The journey of Hestnes is a pioneer and direct gaze at Aalto's work in a period that, from journals and publications, is viewed with great enthusiasm in Portugal. Raúl Hestnes adheres to the architecture of Alvar Aalto because he knows the essays by Zevi brought from Italy by Castel-Branco, Manuel Tainha and his first trans- lations of Aalto's writings, the allure of Fernando Távora. In the 58th, while Raúl Hestnes emancipates himself in this experience, Álvaro Siza drew the Tea House of Boa Nova, exploring the work of Alvar Aalto with emotion from current publications, namely the Architecture d'Aujourd'hui of May 1950.

Scandinavian Time describes, in the history of Portugal's Architecture, a movement of network and simultaneity. This study considers, in a more broadly way, the theorical thinking and effective architectural productions that take place in this network, emphasizing the significant relationships between this Post War II movements, under the influence of Alvar Aalto's work, and the contemporary archi- tecture produced in Portugal. Scandinavian Time, which ultimately is about the interest of the neo-realistic look on things, is the title of the book of short stories published in 1969 by the father of Hestnes, the writer José Gomes Ferreira, consul in Norway in the 20 ́s.


Sunila Pulp Mill, Kotka, 1936-38, 1951-54. Raúl Hestnes / Hestnes photo archive.

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Patrícia Miguel

Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra / Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology

Scandinavian Time, The Voyage of Raúl Hestnes Ferreira to Finland and the Inference of Alvar Aalto's Work in Portuguese Architecture During the Post-War II Period