Alvar Aalto's Helsinki Legacy
The buildings designed by Alvar Aalto are an important part of Helsinki's urban image and a valuable architectural heritage. The city has about 20 buildings or other sites designed by Aalto, the majority of which are internationally recognised – important works in an architectural career that attract visitors from around the world. Nevertheless, many of Aalto's Helsinki sites and buildings have remained not well known until now.
Alvar Aalto's career as a designer of Helsinki buildings started quite modestly but, as his international reputation grew, his works became more and more evident in the capital city as well. Aalto received many of his design assignments through architecture competitions, and such is also the case regarding his Helsinki buildings. For example, the National Pensions Institute and Academic Bookstore building were the result of winning competitions. Many assignments also came through personal friends. A small house for his favourite taxi driver is one example. Contacts and friendships with the upper management of large industry were the source of some large works and, for example, Enso Gutzeit kept Aalto busy in Helsinki during the 1950s.
The buildings designed by Aalto in Helsinki include a gamut of structures that differ in terms of function, including private homes, office and commercial buildings, and sites designed for different audiences. Among Aalto's extensive international production, these Helsinki sites offer an interesting cross-section of the development that occurred during his architectural career.