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The Alvar Aalto Nature Seminar on July 9th 2021 takes place in a milieu very familiar to Alvar Aalto, Jyväskylä’s Ruusupuisto Park and virtually. The free of charge two-part seminar presents Alvar Aalto’s relationship with nature and garden design, Jyväskylä’s local urban nature, national urban parks and the Päijänne biosphere. The event, part of the programme of the Jyväskylä Arts Festival 2021, is being held mainly in Finnish, but one of the morning lectures will be in English.

The main theme of the morning session is “Alvar Aalto – Nature as a Standard”. For Aalto, the virgin, untamed nature represented renewal. He also spoke in favour of a managed forest – making him a pioneer in ecological thinking. In defending the power of vegetation, Aalto also felt he was defending European humanism and its traditions. Architect and Professor of Landscape Architecture Tom Simons will open his contribution by talking about the sources of Alvar Aalto’s garden architecture, as well presenting an important part in the history of Finnish garden architecture, namely Alvar Aalto‘s garden plans, made first jointly with Aino Aalto and later with Elissa Aalto. Johan Mårtelius, Professor of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, explains how the Islamic garden influenced Alvar Aalto’s views of paradise and his own designs. Architect, Professor Vilhelm Helander illustrates how Alvar Aalto adapted the themes of the classical Mediterranean landscape to his own landscape architecture. The theme of Art Historian FM Teija Isohauta‘s presentation is nature and landscape in Alvar Aalto’s exhibition designs.

The afternoon session is dedicated to the local nature of Jyväskylä. The theme of the presentation of the City of Jyväskylä’s Head of Master Planning Mervi Vallinkoski is the Green Loop, Jyväskylä’s central park, which includes the city centre’s diverse green areas and cultural environments. The area is being developed through rehabilitation and maintenance management measures, increasing signage in the area, outdoor lighting and environmental art. The arrangement of interesting events and projects are intended to make the area familiar to both locals and tourists.

The title of the presentation of Senior Ministerial Adviser Jukka-Pekka Flander is “Twenty Years of national urban parks – From concept to a network of star cities”. The model for Finland’s national urban parks (National Urban Park, NUP) has received international recognition and the network is unique in the world. The purpose behind the Ministry of the Environment’s project is to preserve urban nature, parks and the built cultural environment as a whole. The network of star cities includes Hämeenlinna, Heinola, Pori, Hanko, Porvoo, Turku, Kotka, Forssa, Kuopio and Kokkola, as well as 10 National Urban Parks. In his introduction, Flander reflects on the current situation and what changes to the Land Use and Building Act would be needed in order to make the national urban parks even better.

Expert Päivi Halinen talks about the ongoing Päijänne Biosphere Reserve Project. The Päijänne region is undergoing comprehensive development, while safeguarding the area’s diverse natural and cultural heritage values and water quality. Internationally, Päijänne is a model example of successful water protection activities. The water system is important from the point of view of housing, recreation, raw water abstraction, tourism and other economic activities, as well as research. The area comprises three national parks and a comprehensive network of nature sites that form a nature protection base for the biosphere reserve. The joint goal for 2021 of the municipalities of Jyväskylä, Muurame, Joutsa and Toivakka, the JYU.Wisdom research community of the University of Jyväskylä, the Regional Council of Central Finland and the Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment is an application to get Päijänne named as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The event will end with a Päijänne Biosphere Reserve Project kick-off speech by Janne Kotiaho, Director of JYU.Wisdom – School of Resource Wisdom, and Professor of Ecology at the University of Jyväskylä.

The Alvar Aalto Nature Seminar – Green Paradises, which is open to everyone and free of charge, is organized jointly by the Alvar Aalto Academy and the City of Jyväskylä. The event is part of Jyväskylä Festival programme. The supplementary programme includes guided architectural tours in Jyväskylä’s Seminaarinmäki campus, the Green Loop, Alvar Aalto’s summer villa at Muuratsalo, and the Säynätsalo Town Hall. Guided tours (max 20 participants/tour) arranged by the Alvar Aalto Museum will be on sale from 15.6.2021 at:

Alvar Aalto Nature Seminar – Green Paradises
Friday 9th July, 2021
University of Jyväskylä, Ruusupuisto Building (foyer), Alvar Aallon katu (street) 9, 40600 Jyväskylä, Finland.

Nina Heikkonen, Programme Manager
Alvar Aalto Foundation
+358 44 500 1257

Aila Svenskberg, Communications, PRESS
Alvar Aalto Foundation
+358 40 659 1930

A view from Muuratsalo Experimental House by Alvar Aalto (1952-1954). Photo Maija Holma ©Alvar Aalto Foundation.