Before turning his attention to the Fallingwater style, the architect considered the ideas of Finnish farmhouses. Later he did not abandon the initial design, but improved it, designing the building of the traditional Scandinavian L-shaped layout. This was how aristocrats built their mansions, and it was certainly in line with the wealth of the Gullichsens family. Generally, these kinds of buildings have spacious yards. Here, the grounds have been set aside for a swimming pool and sauna, connected to the house by a covered passage.
Once designed, the version was agreed upon with the client, but, already during the construction phase of this house in the woods, Aalto repeatedly made changes to the design. This clearly demonstrates that the Aalto style itself, which combines old and new –what is called a painterly collage, –can be varied and changeable.
Looking at it from a different angle allows us to see even more details, which are surprisingly suited to each other. The wooden paneling on the living room walls harmonizes with the dark stone base of the house and the subtle trellis of the terrace that leads out of the bedroom. Behind the semi-circular wall on the second floor, paneled with dark textured planks, hides Studio Maire. The volume of the rear façade is impressive.
The rear facade of a mansion looks simpler than the main facade. Here are dominated by flat white surfaces, complemented by panoramic windows in the dining room and living room. And the dark wood studio, which we've already seen from a different angle, gives this part of the house an original and stylish look.
Inside, the metaphor of the forest is even more evocative, especially with the columns and non-structural supports, which resemble not only trees but also bushes. They attract guests' attention and functionally divide the house. Therefore, the interior looks more like a certain interweaving of surfaces and lines, in contrast to the usual strict structures often found in modern design.
This is one of the signature features of Aalto's signature projects. This is the result of metaphorical intertwining of the old and new, as well as other unpretentious manipulations with architectural elements.
Let's take a look at the room shown in the picture again. The entrance is on the right, the staircase is on the left and next to it –the passage to the dining room. The house looks no less interesting from the inside than from the outside. The unusual elements – the woodwork, the curved white wall at the entrance, the varying heights of the ceilings – seem eclectic but together create a harmonious and coherent design. It is when the whole is – more than the sum of the parts.
A couple more mystery accessories – original handles and small glass "portholes" on the front door. And of course, one can't ignore the detail that the draughtsmen called "Aalto ears" – a delicate opening on the fireplace in the living room. Such details illustrate the influence of art on architecture and the author's special talent for combining different elements to create a coherent and harmonious design that looks modern without being standard and predictable.
Villa Mairea is home to the Alvar Aalto Museum and you, dear readers, can visit it by reserving a date and time in advance. Those interested in the architecture of the house are encouraged to visit the museum exhibit website for detailed information about the house, as well as many drawings and photos.