Bike Journey to Alvar Aalto – self-guided tour

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Alvar Aalto (1898–1976), one of the best-known Finnish architects and designers in the world, lived and studied in Jyväskylä. In total, there are nearly 30 buildings designed by Alvar Aalto in the Jyväskylä region. What better way to see the works of the renowned architect than a bicycle tour?

Hop in and experience our architectural Bike Journey. Click here to see the whole route. 

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976), one of the best-known Finnish architects and designers in the world, lived and studied in Jyväskylä. In total, there are nearly 30 buildings designed by Alvar Aalto in the Jyväskylä region – ranging from his earliest work to designs made during his final stages. These include both private properties and public buildings, such as the Jyväskylä City Theatre, the University campus and AaltoAlvari Aquatic Centre. What is more, Alvar Aalto set up his first architects office in Jyväskylä in 1923.

Currently, Jyväskylä is known as a city of sports, and the region offers varied bicycle and hiking trails for people of all skill levels. What better way to see the works of the renowned architect than a bicycle tour? The beautiful lake landscape colours the hilly terrain, and the region offers a number of bicycle and hiking trails popular among the locals.

Our Alvar Aalto bicycle tour lets you see the centre of Jyväskylä, while showing off the architecture of Alvar Aalto in different city districts. The bicycle tour starts at the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland, continuing to the centre of Jyväskylä and towards the lake landscapes of Taulumäki and Viitaniemi. The tour then returns to the city centre, visiting the University of Jyväskylä, one of the most architecturally interesting campus areas in Finland.

Hop in and experience our architectural Bike Journey. Click here to see the whole route. 

Sites

Alvar Aalto Museum 1971–1973

Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä
https://www.alvaraalto.fi/en/location/alvar-aalto-museum/

Alvar Aalto Museum is closed until 2023 due to a renevation.

Museum building is one of Alvar Aalto’s later period works. When the building was completed in 1973, the museum exhibited both art and architecture. Today the museum is dedicated exclusively to showcasing Aalto’s lifetime achievements.

Museum of Central Finland 1957–1961, extension 1990

Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä
https://www.jyvaskyla.fi/en/museum-central-finland

The Museum of Central Finland functions as the City museum of Jyväskylä and as the provincial museum of Central Finland. The building was completed in 1961 in accordance with Aalto´s plans. The museum was refurbished and extended in 1988-90 (overseen by Alvar Aalto & co. architects), which decisively changed its overall appearance and the way it relates to its surroundings. In the 4th floor the wavy panel ceiling of the old lecture hall resembles the ceiling of the lecture hall in Viipuri Library in Russia (1933-35) that Aalto also designed. The museum building was renovated in 2017-2020. The new permanent exhibition “Exploring Central Finland” in two floors opened after the renovation.

Did you know? There was a rumour in the opening ceremony of the museum that Aalto has said this museum to be the second best museum in the world. When he was asked that what is the best museum then, he said: ”I haven´t designed that yet!”

Casa Laurén 1925–1928

Vapaudenkatu 12, 40100 Jyväskylä

Alvar Aalto designed the building for two families in 1925. The building was named by the owner Hjalmar Laurén, who lived in the biggest apartment with his family. In the smaller apartment lived the family of shoe factory owner Pulkkinen. Interesting themes of the house were for example high staircase, classical arcadian roofs, a fence with decoration and an arch gate. Since the 1950´s the building was changed little by little, and for a long time it was very difficult to find Aalto´s design in the house.

However, during 2019 the Casa Laurén was renovated following Aalto’s plans. Now the building is again an apartement building, a wooden one, and one can see again for example the arcaded stairways at both ends of the building.

Jyväskylä Administrative and Cultural centre 1964–1982

Vapaudenkatu-Kilpisenkatu-Hannikaisenkatu-Gummeruksenkatu, 40100 Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä Police headquarters (nowadays called Tietotalo) (1976-80), Administrative building (nowadays called Rakentajantalo) (1967-78) and City theatre (1964-82) are all that was carried out of Aalto´s original scheme for the town centre. The second phase of the administrative building, a striking, high-rise ”council tower”, was never built. Police headquarters was the first building to be finished. City theatre was finished in 1982, eight years after Alvar Aalto´s death by supervision of architect Elissa Aalto. Before that year, the theatre was located in the Worker´s Club, another building designed by Aalto.

Can you find? There’s a signature of Alvar Aalto on the wall of the building.

Defence Corps Building 1926-1929

Kilpisenkatu 8, 40100 Jyväskylä

Aalto secured the commission for the Jyväskylä Defence Corps Building by an architectural competition. The building housed originally for example a market hall, a cinema, a grand assembly hall (´sala azzurra`) with theatre stage, a restaurant and office facilities. The building shows Aalto´s stylistic transition from classicism to functionalism, the former still visible in the decoration detailing, the latter in the layout, elevations and floor plan.

A complete renovation of the Defence Corps Building was finished in 2020. During the renovation for example the facade was painted with the orginal grey color.

Nikolainkulma

Vapaudenkatu 53, 40100 Jyväskylä

Alvar Aalto’s first architecture office existed in the basement of the contemporary city hotel. Even though the office was really simple, on the fence just outside the office stood with huge letters: ”THE ALVAR AALTO OFFICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND MONUMENTAL ARTS”.

Workers’ Club 1924–1925

Väinönkatu 7, 40100 Jyväskylä (At the intersection of Väinönkatu and Kauppakatu)

The Jyväskylä Workers´Association theatre and assembly building was Aalto´s first major public building. An open Tuscan colonnade at street level supports the self-contained theatre on the upper floor. The restaurant and café on the lower floor have been fully remodelled, and all other interiors were renovated and restored in 2008. The Workers´Club is the key work of Aalto´s classical period, and it represents typical classicism of the 1920´s with its renaissance influences.

Did you know? The building is called as Aalto´s version of the famous Doge´s Palace in Venice. The colour scale of the building and interiors follows the colours found in Pompeii excavations. If you can´t go in, you can find the colours near the entrance – just look up!

Renovation of Nuora House 1923–1924

Hongikontie 9, 40200 Jyväskylä

Nuora House was originally one-and-a-half storeys high, with a log-walled lower section and a weatherboarded upper section. Aalto converted it into a two-storey residential and commercial building with projecting stairways and balconies. The wide eaves and window frames give the building a distinctly classical appearance.

Viitatorni 1957–1962

Viitaniementie 16, 40720 Jyväskylä

Viitatorni is thirteen stories high, housing some 70 flats. This high-rise block of flats is a unifying landmark in the low-rise garden suburb of Viitaniemi. The asymmetrically staggered elevation overlooking Lake Tuomiojärvi gives the building its emphatically vertical form. Because of its appearance this 39 meters high building was the highest building in Jyväskylä until the year 2002, when the Innova Tower was completed.

Did you know? Viitatorni is also called as ”Aalto´s Tusk” because of its figure.

Aira House 1924–1926

Tapionkatu 2, 40100 Jyväskylä

This three-storey brick building – commissioned as housing for railway workers – was Aalto´s first attempt at a block of flats. It was also one of the first block of flats in Jyväskylä. With its symmetry it represents Aalto´s classical period in the 1920´s. Aira House contains 18 flats of identical size. The building has several classistic details, such as the ornamental downspots and arched entrances.

Can you find? There are lots of small beatiful details in this building. Look very carefully!

Jyväskylä University Seminaarinmäki Campus 1951–1971

Seminaarinkatu 15, 40100 Jyväskylä

In 1951 Aalto won an invited competition for the extension of the Institute of Pedagogics. From then until the 1970’s the campus was progressively extended in line with Aalto’s proposal. The main building is treated as an extension of the main street leading out from the town centre. The windows in the entrance hall provide views of the surrounding landscape. The eye-catching rar elevations and surrounding pinewoods form an enclosure around a classically inspired ceremonial court. Park and sport fields form the centre of the campus.

Can you find? When Aalto joined the competition, he used a latin pseudonym ”Urbs” meaning the city. Aalto has also placed the buildings in the nature like it was a small city!

Villa Karpio 1923

Lehtisenkuja 1, 40600 Jyväskylä

 

Commissioned by the Karpio family, the renovation of this Villa was among the first assignments secured in Jyväskylä by Aalto’s architectural office. Aalto’s original proposal was carried out in considerably reduced scale. Situated on a slope, the single-storey building features a front veranda adorned by classically styled wooden columns. The villa retains its original appearance.

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