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”For me in my mind there is always a journey to Italy.” Architect Alvar Aalto

The newest volume in the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s publication series presents the 1956 Venice Finnish Pavilion. The pavilion, designed at the initiative of art patron Maire Gullichsen, was set up in the Giardini parkland to house Finnish exhibition section of the Venice Biennale International Art Festival in the spring of 1956. According to Aalto’s plan, the pavilion should be an exhibition space that was movable, easy to dissemble, store and re-assemble: “Like a tent,” as he put it. The walls and roof of the light-structured pavilion were made of wooden elements. The building’s architectonic idea was a whole formed by blue wall lamellas and white triangles. Interior skylights brought natural light into the space and left the wall surfaces free for hanging the exhibition.

Originally built as a temporary structure, the Finnish Pavilion still stands in the same place in the Venice Biennale area, and has over the decades hosted a variety of exhibitions. The building was restored at the Italians’ initiative in 1975-76, as a project by Finnish architectural students led by Panu Kaila in 1993 and again by Gianni Talamini in 2012. During this year’s Venice architecture biennale, Aalto’s pavilion will house the Mind-Building exhibition, which presents Finnish library architecture from various decades.

The publication sheds light on the Pavilion’s background through an article written by Alvar Aalto for Arkkitehti (the Finnish Architectural Review) in 1956 and a 1987 text by Elissa Aalto, illustrated by drawings and photographs from the Alvar Aalto Museum collection. A text by Gianni Talamini explains the pavilion’s last comprehensive restoration project. The pavilion is the only building completed in Italy during Alvar Aalto’s lifetime and its preservation is, in the words of Elissa Aalto, “a tribute to Alvar Aalto and a reminder of his relationship with Italy”.

The book is on sale at the bookshop at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, at the Alvar Aalto shops in Helsinki and Jyväskylä as well as online at

Il padiglione finlandese alla Biennale di Venezia, Venezia, Italia / The Finnish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy / Venetsian Suomen Paviljonki, Venetsia, Italia
Publisher Alvar Aalto Museum © Alvar Aalto Foundation
1st edition, Kirjapaino Kari Ky, Jyväskylä, Finland 2018