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Vaasa, Strömberg Oy, housing, 1945–1947. credit Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum, 1982.

Vaasa, Strömberg Oy, housing, 1945–1947. credit Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum, 1982.

Rowhouses are taking over the Alvar Aalto Museum’s Gallery, 25.9–15.11.2015. The Finnish rowhouse – from working-class housing to middle-class dream exhibition is showing gems of this lifestyle familiar to all Finns, with the hand of Alvar Aalto and
his architect contemporaries powerfully in evidence.

Based on extensive research by Professor Riitta Nikula, the exhibition tells the intriguing story of the rowhouse, uncovering the eventful history of rowhouse living from the 1900s to the 1960s. In the spotlight are Finnish housing policy, urban planning and architecture.

“The exhibition takes a fascinating look into familiar, everyday architecture. In contrast to stunning ‘wow’ architecture, the rowhouse is a subject about which everyone is sure to have an opinion and personal experience. Not everyone visits, say, Kiasma (designed by architect Steven Holl), but everyone has visited a rowhouse home at one time or another,” says Alvar Aalto Museum curator Mari Murtoniemi.

Rowhouses occupied a significant role in Alvar Aalto’s production and as a house type they frequently represent one of the modes of living in his area plans. The exhibition takes a peek into a slightly less well-known side of Aalto. For instance, it includes the wooden rowhouses built for factory workers in Vaasa’s Huutoniemi district and Hämeenlinna’s Vanaja neighbourhood. Also on show is the sculptural terraced-house scheme built in Ruukinpuisto Ironworks Park in Kauttua in the 1930s.

The works of other masters besides Alvar Aalto have been curated for the exhibition. Visitors will get a chance to see Eliel Saarinen’s design for Munkkiniemi-Haaga, with its rowhouse zone, completed in 1915, and the country’s first municipal rowhouses, designed by Birger Federley for Viinikka in Tampere.

Jyväskylä is represented by Viitaniemi – a true embodiment of the garden-city ideal. The architects of this area include Erkki Kantonen, Jorma Paatola, Keijo Petäjä and Juha Vikkula.

The exhibition uses drawings, photographs and films to present this high-quality everyday architecture. The project has been produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

The formal opening of the exhibition will be at 18:00 on Thursday, September 24. The architect Ilkka Halinen will give the inaugural speech.

There is a public lecture by Professor Riitta Nikula in the Alvar Aalto Museum’s Bio Alppi cinema at 18:00 on October 13. The language of the event will be finnish.

The Finnish rowhouse – from working-class housing to middle-class dream
Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery
Alvar Aallon katu 7, Jyväskylä
Open Tues–Sun 11–18

Further information:
Mari Murtoniemi
Alvar Aalto Foundation
tel. +358 40 355 9162

Annukka Pakarinen
Alvar Aalto Foundation
tel. +358 50 3810143

Press photos: