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Aalto’s summer house, Muuratsalo, 1953 – brick experiments

I love bricks. The scale of a brick to fit in a human hand allows you to imagine the wall being built one brick at a time. I probably read that somewhere rather than invented it myself, but it’s right. Bricks can also create nice patterns. This photo is of a wall of Alvar Aalto’s summer house on Muuratsalo and maybe was a test palate for different brick options.

I looked up this project up in my one Aalto book, Alvar Aalto by Richard Weston, 1995. ¬†Weston has several pages on these “brick experiments”

“The brickwork is also painted white externally, while inside the courtyard the brick and tile experiments create a rich patchwork-quilt on the walls and floor, which suggest by turn De Stijl-like reliefs, or old walls with redundant door and window openings bricked up and patched over time. The experiments were as much aesthetic as technical: we are in the world of metaphor again , for what are these walls if not imitations of ‘ruins’ – past, or perhaps to come? Is this tiny piazzetta, the atrium of a Pompeian patrician’s dwelling, or the (de)relict room of a large, old house, which has lost its roof and been recolonized as a picturesque courtyard? All these possibilities come to mind: the image is too general to be pinned down to a specific interpretation – it would lapse into kitsch otherwise – and can still be contemplated simply as an abstract collage. Memories of Pompeiana probably played their part. As did those of Italian piazzas. I like to think Aalto intended the walls to be seen as the arch-empiricist’s ironic commentary on the fate of the strict geometric compositions then coming into favor in Finland under the influence of the arch -theorist Aulis Blomstedt, with his pythagorean fascination for number and proportion on the basis of beauty. ” Pg 119-121

There are several more paragraphs of discussion of the meaning of this brickwork in Weston’s book. I think I will let you read the book rather than transcribe it here.

 

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