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The Alvar Aalto in Germany: Drawing Modernism exhibition highlights sites in Germany designed by Alvar Aalto’s architect’s office from the 1950s to 80s. The exhibition is at the Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin 23.9–14.1.2024. It brings together more than 70 original architectural drawings made for a total of fourteen built and unbuilt construction projects. The drawings allow us to trace the stages of the creative design process, from early tentative sketches to carefully elaborated, detailed working drawings.

Alvar Aalto’s (1898–1976) growing international reputation brought design work increasingly aimed at Continental Europe. Germany became a focal point for Aalto’s architecture – with major buildings completed in four cities: Berlin, Bremen, Essen and Wolfsburg. A distinct role in finishing the realised buildings was also played by Alvar Aalto’s second wife, architect Elissa Aalto (1922–1994), who heroically brought to completion the construction projects unfinished on Aalto’s death in 1976. The realised plans were Wolfsburg Church and Parish Centre (1959–62) and Stephanus Church and Parish Centre (1963, 1965–68), the Neue Vahr (1958–62) and Hansaviertel (1955–57) apartment blocks in Bremen in Berlin, respectively, Wolfsburg Culture Centre (1958–62), and the Opera and Music Theatre, Essen (1959, 1983–88). The unrealised plans include major public projects – town halls, civic centres, master plans and commercial office buildings.

The exhibition presents the drawings thematically. “Natural and Civic Topographies” explores how civic buildings and master plans grew organically from, and resonated with, their existing geographical and cultural contexts. “Projecting Identity” interrogates how architectural form and urban space were employed as tools for communicating a sense of local character to the world beyond. “Boundaries of the Sacred” charts the ways in which churches in Wolfsburg negotiate the relationship between the sacred and the profane, while “Humanising Standardisation” documents an effort to make paradigms of efficiency and optimisation subordinate to human comfort in the domestic context.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Sofia Singler, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Timo Riekko, Chief Curator at the Alvar Aalto Foundation, and Nadejda Bartels, Director of the Tchoban Foundation. Exhibition design is by Anna Andrich, Architectural Designer, and graphic design by Annika Paetsch, Graphic Designer.

The production is a collaboration between the Tchoban Foundation, the Finnish Institute in Germany, the University of Cambridge, and the Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Alvar Aalto in Germany: Drawing Modernism
Tchoban Foundation, Museum for Architectural Drawing
Christinenstraße 18a, 10119 Berlin

Further information:
Alvar Aalto Foundation
Chief Curator Timo Riekko
+358 400 354 268