Today we visited two distinctive projects: Paimio Sanatorium by Alvar Aaltó and Hvitträsk mansion by Geselius, Lindgren, and Saarinen architects.
The sanatorium was built during the 20’s and 30’s when Finnish healthcare progressed tremendously as more hospitals, sanatoriums, and mental institutions were being built. Alvar Aalto was interested in this kind of institutional architecture
and submitted the Paimio Sanatorium project for a competition, and won a prize. Aalto believed that physicians and architects must work together to treat patients.
Before antibiotics the most important combatant against TB was sunlight, fresh air, and hygiene. He believed that the spaces that the patients inhabit were just as vital to a person’s treatment. Every architectural detail has a clinical function.
Aalto describes the Paimio Sanatorium: “The main purpose of the building is to function as a medical instrument”; “one of the basic prerequisites for healing is to provide complete peace. The room design is determined by the depleted strength of the patient, reclining in his bed. The color of the ceiling is chosen for quietness, the light sources are outside the patients field of vision towards the patient’s feet, and the water runs soundlessly from the taps to make sure that no patient disturbs his neighbor.”
Our second destination is Villa Hvitträsk.
Hvitträsk was built between 1901-1903 by Finnish architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen.´The house is located on a forested ridge near the shore of Lake Vitträsk, about thirty kilometers west of Helsinki. The buildings are arranged along a rocky ridge. The long wall of the main house is placed with dramatic effect against a steep rise.
The house rises in a series of terraces and stairways and its upper storeys are given breadth by balconies, terraces, and bay windows. The courtyard is much more restrained. It is sheltered and open to the sun.
The main building, designed in National Romantic style, is built of logs and natural stone, that was both a common studio and a home for Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren. Gesellius lived in the courtyard building and later moved into the north-wing of the main building after Lindgren relocated in Helsinki.
The interior strikes with ornamentation in National Romantic style, oftentimes the decor elements are reminicent of Kalevala.