The increasing industrialization of north European countries as Finland during the sixties caused the decline of the small-agriculture and a depopulation of rural areas while urban communities grew exponentially.
(Villa Skeppet – Living Room)
The improving Finland’s welfare structure and a better standard of living pushed the request for new houses and the construction industry as a consequence. The use of prefabricated and standardized elements played an important role in this process.
Through the 60s the Alvar Aalto office worked at many houses abroad as well as private and public buildings in Finland.
Even though his success positioned Aalto as the authoritative Maestro member of the Finnish Academy, he also got criticized by the new generation of architects that pointed at his work as elitist; specially if compared with the geometric simplicity -in the spirit of Mies van der Rohe- that many of them adopted.
For sure -amid his career- the Alvar Aalto architectural choices became more monumental in the forms as in the materials he choose for the projects.
During all the decade Aalto worked on many projects commissioned by friends; the personalities and needs of whom have always been took in consideration.
Alvar Aalto And Goran Schildt: The Concept Behind Villa Skeppet.
The last house Alvar Aalto designed was, also, for one of his longtime friends: Goran Schildt.
Aalto and Schildt met in the 40s already to became closer starting from 1952 when Schildt introduced the Italian Artist Roberto Sambonet to the architect.
During the 50s the three men became close friends and Aalto also designed a villa for Sambonet that was never built.
Schildt was known as a travel writer and art critic but he also wrote several books on Aalto, including a biography published in the late 80s.
Schildt and his wife spent most of their time abroad, specially in Greece where they had a vacation house.
Joking about this -Schildt later recalled- Aalto started to work at the project for the Villa Skeppet with an ironic comment: “You spend too much time abroad. l’ll build you a house that makes you stay in Finland.”
A Boat Villla.
As Schildt loved Greece, Aalto preferred Italy but both were fascinated by the Mediterranean landscape, culture and civilization that also influenced/inspired the design of the villa.
Alvar Aalto’s Villa Skeppet is located in a quiet seaside street of the small coastal town of Tammisaari.
Skeppet means boat or vessel and refers to the exterior shape of the house by the living room and balcony whose resemble the commanding deck of a ship; a clear reference to Schildt’s love for the sea and Mediterranean.
The facade is, in fact, dominated by the protruding living room corner -that remembers the shape of a prow- and by the wedge-shaped balcony that protrudes above the main entrance.
The inside space is arranged in four areas, the most large and visible of whose is the entrance hall/living room area.
In the most quiet part of the house Aalto located Schildt’s studio while the kitchen and the bedroom are in a separate area.
The guestroom and sauna building are, instead, separated by the main building and linked to it by a canopy and pergola.
In the back of the villa, the garden is screened by a wooden fence and has a small water-lily pond.
The peculiar shape of the villa is highlighted by the volume and materials used.
All the facades are covered with withe-rendered bricks except for the living room and balcony which are overlaid in dark-stained wood.
Between the main building and the sauna the white-painted wooden latticework is used as a screen.
To obtain more floor space and the particular prow shape, the cantilevered balcony was extended over the building foundations allowing also a better view of the living area.
As he was used to do with all his clients, also with Christine and Goran Schildt Alvar Aalto had an intense correspondence discussing details and their special needs.
They decided together, as an example, the colors for the bathroom and the kitchen as the best placement of windows and doors.
Schildt also desired an Ibsen-like style furnished room with later XIX century furniture that Aalto realized in the guest room.
Aalto was particularly fascinated by the concept of steps that he developed in several projects including the famous Maison Carre.
As Schildt recalled: “To him, they meant a meeting point between the human frame and the earth, an event where our legs measure the differences in levels of the terrain.”
The Alvar Aalto love for steps probably come from the terraces in the mountain villages and hill towns of the Mediterranean countries that he loved and tried to reproduce also in the exterior of Villa Skeppet.
He managed to squeeze in four steps in front of the main entrance, five from the hall to the first floor and courtyard level plus ten steps from there to the living area.
It is also understandable, then, why the staircase in the hall has such an important role in the spatial order of the rooms and movement through the building in the Villa Skeppet as in the Villa Mairea.
From the ground floor the visitor has a quick sight of the living room with its exposed ceiling beams. Walking up the stairs the house gradually reveals itself, from the mid-level there is the view of the garden of the studio and the kitchen.
(Photos via [amazon_link id="1568989822" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Alvar Aalto Houses[/amazon_link])
At the first floor, the living room geometry and materials remember of the interior of a boat thanks also to its wood-clad ceiling.
The heart of the living is undoubtedly the fireplace with its flame-shaped exterior while the large corner window overlooks the seashore park.
The interior decoration is a mix of Alvar Aalto furniture and Mediterranean elements such as the Greek amphorae close to the Aalto’s Savoy Vases. Today the house is a private home.
What do you think about the Villa Skeppet? Did you know it already? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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