Last Updated 25 May 2020

Alvar Alto Design Theory Paimio Sanatorium

Category Design, Theories
Essay type Research
Words 1693 (6 pages)
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The figurehead of modernism and leader of bringing architecture back to the human scale that once was, Alvar Aalto is now an architectural inspiration to us all. Aalto did not use his architecture as a learning tool but more as a gesture toward the emotional and physical needs of man. His architecture was meant to enrich the lives of those it served. Aalto focused on context in site in relation to the human body. Forms, light and shadow were inspired by the Finnish forests Aalto grew up near.

When he was a child he made drawings of the landscape that influenced his later built projects in their relationships to horizons and vertical connections, sections and ground plan. He brought us buildings that involved form, light, and color, along with many other attributes all over the world including the Viipuri Library, the Paimio Sanatorium, and even Mt. Angel Library here in Oregon. Functional Room Functional Design The rooms in the patients' wing are arranged on the north side of the corridor.

By siting the rooms on one side only, Aalto was able to bring natural light into the corridor and give the patients the feeling that they were in control of the space. Aalto studied the angle of the sunlight in conjunction with the heating system. Sun blinds were fixed outside the windows to cut down solar gain. The whole building was designed in every aspect to make the patients confinement tolerable and to assist in their healing. Their room's were designed with a horizontal person in mind.

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The source of heat comes down from the ceiling, one wall was lined in absorbent insulation to make acoustics more restful, and the window frames in the rooms were timber to reduce condensation and be warmer to touch. the washbasins were designed to run silently and had to be hygienic and easy to clean (unsuccessfully in practice). The pipe work was concealed in the walls, whereas prior to this pipes were usually surface-fixed. Aalto had his own ideas about the ceilings for example. The ceiling of the room should be the colour of the sky," The lighting came from a wall mounted uplighter out of the patients sight where it was diffused throughout the room. Since the ceiling was painted in darker tones, the ceiling area reflecting the light had to be painted a lighter one. The door handles were created with as much methodical attention to detail. They were designed so coat sleeves or pockets couldn't get caught and they had rounded edges in case patients should happen to knock into them. Rose cellar In the Sanatorium death was an everyday reality, so naturally there was a mortuary on the site.

The Rose Cellar, as the mortyary was called, disappeared into the terrain and took its name from the roses covering the mound of earth in front of it; only the holes drilled into the wooden door in the form of a cross gave a clue as to the use of the building. The mortuary is a light, whitewashed concrete vault lit by a roof light. A black-painted wooden catafalque rests on the brick-red floor and the partition that divides the curved vault has an abstract painting by Aalto and the Turku artist Eino Kauria. Viper hall The nurses' home, known as the 'hall of vipers', was designed and built in 1060-63.

It is a two-storey, four-part building, with each part joined to the next by an drawn-in linking element. It departs from Aalto's 1930s buildings mainly in that, instead of a flat roof, it has a pitched roof and the detailing does not focus nearly as much on metal. The name is derived from the fact that the building wriggles gently across the terrain. Stairs Tuberculosis was treated with fresh air, so that sun beds suitable for external use were needed. They emerged as the result of some specialist design work, as did the 'winter sleeping bags' made of sheepskin that were part of the sun beds.

The whole interior of the building is pervaded by health giving light, most powerfully in the stair cases, where sun spills down huge areas of glazing. Where the effort of climbing was incorporated as part of the healing process. Tree section Aalto believed that "the health of every person depends to a great extent on his submission to the conditions of nature" This came from the fact that medicine was not advanced enough to heal alone, so healing came from being take out of the crowded, disease infested cities where the sun, space and breeze of the country would help heal.

The flat finnish landscape made a stepped section unsuitable, the roof terrace is then used for treatment for summer and winter alike stretching the entire length of the patient ward, where the healthier patients could go and take in the spectacular views across the vast forest, each sun-deck beneath was cantilevered to take in the sunshine, like the branches of a tree. Organism for Healing The health of every person depends a great extent on his submission to the condition of nature.

The outer buildings are module starting with the head physicians house they grow and multiply like they are a dividing organism until you get to the patients ward and the rooms are almost exponential in comparison. The building is designed to be a organism for healing, each room is catered to the patient with the use of sun, greenery, and space it helps them in their healing process. Forest The Patients rooms looked out over an unhabited forest which is visually brought into the building as posts, vertical lines, windows and columns.

The pine forest was a powerful source of healing and hope for the finish patients, it is also therapeutic to the community who's collective soul deeply embraces the protective wood's and tree's. It is hard to imagine the impact the sanatorium must have had on patients. The dedication to serving their needs manifested in every detail and the optimistic uplifteing quality of it's light filled spaces. Symmetry as parts (medical and proper man) vs. Asymmetry as a whole (natural and living) The plan of the building is laid out in different sections.

Each section is symmetric or on a central axis. The building as a whole does not have a central axis but is asymmetrically in balance. Sort of like a human body that is being treated for a certain condition. The focus is put on parts of the physical body, but as a whole the body makes up a person or a human being. Technology is manmade - human creating a function from natural sources Aalto liked to use materials in their natural state in his buildings. He also liked to take advantage of how modern technology could assist the daily needs of the people in his buildings.

In the Sanitarium, he created manmade elements made from elements close to their natural state as a gesture towards to needs of the patients, doctors, and nurses using the spaces. Plasticity and Fluidity (like natures organic forms) Throughout the Paimio Sanitarium, certain spaces have a plastic form that is almost like a landmark in that area of the building. These forms seem to mimic the organic forms that can be found in nature like the curve of the terrain on the hill, or the edge of the tree creating a fluid line that separates its branches from the sky.

They are found in the central stair of the tower and the overhang above the entrance to the building. Facing the Sun During this time there were not any antibiotics or specific medicines for the treatment of tuberculosis. The best treatment for the condition was dry climate, greenery, fresh, clean air, and a lot of sun. With having a south facing slope it makes sense to position the patients' rooms and the roof terrace to face the sun. A Landscape representing time - modern, ancient, and current. This picture really represents a lot of different times in the culture of the area.

The pastures and fields in the foreground represent the current lives of the citizens of Paimio - they are healthy, providing resources and going about their daily lives. In the middle ground there is the forest- it is natural growth and holds a sort of history in the culture of the people. Then, rising above it all is the Sanitarium - a modern piece of architecture at the time that still stands as a landmark. Architecturally, it was a glimpse into what would be in the future and functionally it was a humble reminder of the hard times.

Conclusion. The solution Aalto created for solving the needs of people to fit in with their comfortable natural state while gaining the positive effects of the industrialization at the time was to give people the creative freedom to make their spaces unique to themselves and their needs. He wanted people to remember their individualism. Finding the potential value in humans and emphasizing their common needs became Aalto's main purpose in architecture in his later years. This can be seen in his public buildings as well as in his churches and houses.

Aalto believed that people should live a democratic and individualistic lifestyle. He called for the humanization of all things including his architecture. It was important to address how humans move and travel through space and also how they inhabit it. The needs of the user were considered. In all of his projects, Aalto stressed meaning of the project to the client as well as to himself. He looked at the perspectives of the users and found ways to enhance those perspectives, for example the chairs in the Sanatorium were designed to make it easier for the patients to breathe.

His architecture was meant to enrich the lives of those it served. In the Paimio Sanitarium in particular, Aalto's attention to psychological spaces enhancing the quality of life for the users, relation to the other buildings in the area, having a form that follows the function, and specific detail in the technical equipment made it all come together to create a well designed approach to the site and the people that dwell within it in a beautiful piece of modern architecture.

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Alvar Alto Design Theory Paimio Sanatorium. (2017, Apr 07). Retrieved from

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