Architect
Alvar Aalto Elissa Aalto
Design
1952-1954
Completion
1954
Themes
Alvar Aalto’s Architecture
Category
Private free-time buildings
Tags
atrium brick courtyard DOCOMOMO sauna

During the construction of the town hall in nearby Säynätsalo, Alvar and Elissa Aalto discovered an attractive lakeshore site for their summer house. They built a studio house there in 1952–53, to serve both as a leisure home and as a test site for a series of architectural experiments, in line with the Aaltos’ idea that architects should have the opportunity to try out new ideas, as in a laboratory.

The house is a modest structure, built partly with rejected bricks from the Säynätsalo site. It consists of two obliquely placed wings, one of which contains the living room and the other two bedrooms and a bathroom; the kitchen is at the intersection. Two high brick walls, rendered on the outside, suggestive of ruins, complete the picture. Together with the two wings of the house, the walls enclose an atrium-like courtyard, with a sunken fire pit in the middle.

One experimental test was the use of various kinds of brick and ceramics. The test was performed by dividing the atrium walls and floor into some fifty test fields. A wooden wing with two bedrooms was added in 1953. The ensemble further included a shed, an experimental sauna, and a landing stage for the motorboat ‘Nemo propheta in patria’.

The small log sauna with a turf roof was built in 1953–54. It stands on the lakeside with four boulders as foundation and only a minuscule changing room in front of the genuine, sooty ‘smoke sauna’.

Alvar Aalto designed the boat ‘Nemo propheta in patria’ in 1954 for travelling to his summer home on Muuratsalo island. As in a military landing craft, the prow is based on the gradient of the lakeshore, and equipped with an out-turned gunwale to facilitate landing in wilderness conditions. The entire forward part, containing benches and the wheel, is open to the sky; a small cabin with two berths and a powerful engine are situated in the aft. The craft was built by the local carpenter Väinö Jokinen. Aalto built a small harbour for the boat below his summer house, and another one in Säynätsalo where he left his car. Today the boat is stored under a canopy on the site in Muuratsalo.

Muuratsalo Experimental House is listed on the DOCOMOMO Finland registered selection of important architectural and environmental modernist sites.

Location

Jyväskylä
62.1156031, 25.7483819

Images

Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Vatanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Vatanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Muuratsalo Experimental House
Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sketch, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sketch, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
North elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
North elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
East elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
East elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
West elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
West elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Section and courtyard elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Section and courtyard elevation, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Section, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Section, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Site plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Site plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Eino Mäkinen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, floor plan, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, elevations and foundation rocks, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, elevations and foundation rocks, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Sauna, section, Muuratsalo Experimental House
Sauna, section, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
'Nemo propheta in patria', Muuratsalo Experimental House
'Nemo propheta in patria', Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
'Nemo propheta in patria' stored under a canopy, Muuratsalo Experimental House
'Nemo propheta in patria' stored under a canopy, Muuratsalo Experimental House (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)

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