Published titles > Architecture > Alvar Aalto: Architect
Alvar Aalto: Architect cover image
UK £40.00
US $65.00
Hardback with jacket
272 pages
130 illustrations, 30 in colour, 1 map
25 x 21 cm (9.75 x 8.5 in)
ISBN: 978-1-8589-4660-3
Alvar Aalto: Architect

John Stewart

Foreword by Richard Rogers


Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) is universally recognized as one of the masters of Modernist architecture. While the remarkable buildings he designed have been much studied, the story of how a young architect from a village in western Finland achieved such international prominence is little known. This new biography of Aalto is the first to offer a comprehensive and objective survey of his life, from growing up in the Finnish provinces to finding global acclaim, and also covers all his projects, from early work in Jyväskylä in the 1920s to Finlandia Hall, completed in Helsinki in 1971. John Stewart draws on Aalto’s archive, the recollections of former employees and contemporaneous publications to fully explore Aalto the architect rather than simply his architecture. For the first time, the Finn’s life is set in the context of the events that surrounded and shaped it. Stewart reflects on Aalto’s marriage to Aino, his key friendships, his participation in architectural competitions, working life in his first office and his continual financial difficulties. As Aalto’s career progresses, Stewart considers the patrons who were so important to him – the Gullichsens – and the founding of the furniture company Artek, Aalto’s professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of  Technology in the 1940s, his marriage to Elissa after Aino’s death, his greatest architectural achievements in the 1950s, and his growing fame and eventual vanity. This unique book seeks, above all, to understand what drove Aalto; the combination of talent and character traits that led to his extraordinary worldwide success.


The first biography of Alvar Aalto in more than 30 years

Presents previously unpublished material, including photographs and drawings

Features a complete checklist of Aalto's built and unbuilt projects

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Author Profile


John Stewart is an award-winning architect and writer who formerly led one of the UK’s largest multidisciplinary architectural practices. He has taught at numerous schools of architecture in the UK. His book Nordic Classical Architecture will be published in 2017.

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Stewart's biography provides a compelling picture of Aalto's personality and mode of working. It is beautifully illustrated, both with photographs and with architectural drawings

The Decorative Arts Society Newsletter

The book covers [Aalto's relationships with his wives] and many other relationships, competitions, events, and happenings in Aalto's life through nine chronological chapters … [The illustrations] lend further personality to the person behind the Paimio Sanatorium, Villa Mairea, Säynätsalo Town Hall, and other modern masterpieces 

Daily Dose of Architecture Books
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Table of Contents:

Foreword by Richard Rogers
Childhood 1898-1916
Architectural Education and Civil War 1916-23
The Jyvaskyla Office 1923-27
The Turku Office 1927-33
The Helsinki Office 1933-39
War and Peace 1939-49
A New Life 1949-55
Modern Master 1956-66
The Final Years 1967-76

Map of Aalto's Finland

Alvar Aalto's Architectural Projects

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Architectural Projects
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