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The Finnish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, designed by Alvar Aalto, was completed in 1956. During a storm in October 2011, a tree fell on the little blue pavilion on the Biennale grounds, damaging the roof and distorting the whole structure.

The owner of the building, Senate Properties Ltd (Finland) decided quickly that it could and should be repaired. Local architect Gianni Talamini was appointed as chief designer and director of works. Even though small in size, the problematics involved in reinstalling the structure were extremely demanding. Talamini’s role in the success of the project was crucial: he skilfully prepared for the restoration and most importantly, was continuously present at the site, working tirelessly and enthusiastically.

Thanks to the attention paid to the tiniest details and the co-operation of all participants, the restoration of the Aalto pavilion serves as an exemplary restoration.

Gianni Talamini in 2012 at the Finnish Pavilion in Venice Biennale (Alvar Aalto 1956).

This has probably been the most extensive and careful restoration of the pavilion that has ever been done: first of all in terms of historical research, secondly due to the fact that the structure was almost completely dissembled and re-assembled, and thirdly because the building has been cleaned  of the numerous layers of alien materials that had been added to it during the course of its life. Doing that, as in an archaeological survey, made it possible to read many chapters of the pavilion history that have never been written on paper. These day-by-day discoveries have been a very exciting reward for the great effort of getting the restoration done properly and on time.

In nine months, just in time for the 13th Architecture Exhibition, the pavilion was finally unveiled again.

–           Gianni Talamini, Architect

Read the whole article by restoration architect Talamini.

In an exceptional way, the Finnish exhibition at the 2012 Biennale spotlights the beautiful wooden surfaces of the pavilion interiors. These were cleaned of thick layers of paint during the restoration process, leaving them visible for now. The story of how the restoration was carried out can be read directly from the roof structures and the walls, as well as from an information board at the site. In future, the roof trusses and surfaces will be painted over and the walls covered with a paintable fabric, as it has always been.

Press photos


Chief Architect Tuula Pöyhiä,, tel. +358 50 378 5385,
Alvar Aalto Museum

Read more about the present exhibition:

Facts about the Venice Pavilion

Built in 1956 as a temporary pavilion for art exhibitions

Design: 1955-56 by architect Alvar Aalto, assisted by architect Elissa Aalto

Size: 83 m²/ 315 m3

Project costs: 0,250 M€

Earlier main renovations: 1976 led by architect Fredrick Fogh and 1993 led by architect Panu Kaila

Present restoration:

Owner and promoter: Senate Properties Ltd, Finland/ M.Sc. Juha Niemelä, with M.Sc. Harri Ilomäki and M.Sc. Anu Kuoppamäki as project management consultants (A-Insinöörit Rakennuttaminen Ltd, Finland)

Restoration expert: Alvar Aalto Foundation, architect Tuula Pöyhiä

Designer and director of works: architect Gianni Talamini, San Fior (TV), Italy

Static calculations: M.Sc. Enrico Bortolato, Salzano (VE), Italy

Building company: Bio-House S.r.l., Montebelluna (TV), Italy

Restoration period (construction works): June 18–August 26, 2012

Main institutions involved:


–        Senate Properties

–        Alvar Aalto Foundation

–        Museum of Finnish Architecture


–        City of Venice

–        Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici

–        La Biennale di Venezia