Villa Mairea by Alvar Aalto, a stunning single-family detached home with project drawings and CAD resources for you to download
Villa Mairea is considered one of the most important single-family detached houses of the world architectural history (together with Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, Tugendhat House by Mies van der Rohe and Kaufmann House by Frank Lloyd Wright) and an example of harmony and balance between a building and natural environment elements.
Further on this article, we’ll be reviewing Villa Mairea characteristics and examine the reasons why it is, like Villa Malaparte, one of the most exemplary and mythical places of modern architecture.
As for the other Focus Architecture articles, we have created technical descriptions and project drawings such as floor plans, elevations, sections and isometric views that you can download in DWG file format. Moreover, project images and renderings will be available and you will have the opportunity to even navigate the project 3D model that can be browsed online with BIM Voyager, for a highly realistic experience.
The model is enriched with furnishing elements that reproduce some of the works in Villa Mairea: these, and other objects, are all available in ACCA software BIM Object Library.
Villa Mairea and Alvar Aalto
Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto is regarded as one of the most important exponent of 20th century and “master” of the so-called Modern Movement. His way of working represented a breakaway from traditional architecture and design in terms of the configuration of spaces, compositional forms and aesthetics. Being a multifaceted character, he worked as an architect, university academic and designer, and founded the Artek furniture factory with his first wife.
Among his numerous projects and ideas we would like to mention the Paimio sanatorium, where furnishings was completed with the famous 41 Paimio armchair, still in production today, the Viipuri library, the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Riola di Vergato (Bologna), the Maison Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne in France, his home in Munkkiniemi and the seat 65, the stool 60, the lamp A110, the Savoy vase, probably his most famous work; finally one of the most ingenious innovations, the L-shaped leg.
Aalto painted all his life, seeing this as a useful ‘aesthetic exercise’, and learned more than any other architect the techniques of the collage invented by Braque and Picasso in 1912. These techniques, hidden in all his works from Paimio on, became later on evident while designing Villa Mairea.
The collage technique has allowed Aalto to brilliantly satisfy the desire of its customers for a modern and unmistakably Finnish home.
“We must always seek a synthesis of opposites. Almost all design tasks include tens, often hundreds, sometimes thousands of different and contradictory factors, brought together in a harmony functional only by the will of man. This harmony can not be achieved with instruments other than those of art”.
It is a modern work in line with the Scandinavian landscape and culture to which it belongs and which helps to redefine.
Another particular aspect of the collage method is the remarkable Japanese atmosphere, which in Villa Mairea can be found in the combination of materials, the fineness of the details, the mixture of regular rhythms, the steel columns wrapped in wood, etc.
During the same years Wright built his house on the waterfall, reproducing a simpler and less scenic architecture. The house he designed is located in a forest, has a U-shaped plan and is characterized by a traditional local element, the sauna (covered by a lawn). On the front part a swimming pool takes the classic shape of Finnish lakes.
Villa Mairea: the site and the project
The building stands on a green hill in western Finland, in a small glade surrounded by a pine forest.
The foundation work had already begun on the site on the basis of a previous 1938 project. Aalto, however, dissatisfied with the initial project, produced a new one that convinced his clients.
The initial purpose was to create a villa for the vacation, where writing, painting, to receiving friends or resting.
The final project is based on the concept of a continuous living space (open space) of 250 square meters, having all the collective functions of the house and the owner’s art collections.
The area view shows how Aalto abandoned the rationalist syntax: the ground floor is U-shaped, while the first floor is L-shaped; in the middle of the garden there is a swimming pool with a sinuous shape. A low wall of rough stone completes the fence.
The villa developed on three levels:
- the basement is intended for system installations and cellars;
- the ground floor identifies the multi-purpose manor living area that extends towards the garden;
- the upper floor includes the sleeping area for the parents, the children and the guests.
The entrance (covered with a wooden shelter) opens into a small top-hall, from here another door leads into an open hall located four steps below the main level.
The entrance is also aligned to the dining table. A screen of wooden stakes together with a sloping wall define an informal anteroom between the living room and the dining room.
The living area is completed with the library, in addition to the lake-shaped pool, connected to the house through a portico with natural structure and a roof covered with grass. On the first floor there is the sleeping area and the study.
The study of its orientation is very interesting. Aalto designed the main façade to the south together with the entrance shelter, the rooms, the library, the study and part of the living room; the kitchen, auxiliary spaces and rooms for domestics and guests to the east side; the whole area is closed by the large forest and encloses the swimming pool to the north; a more open space is, instead, located to the west.
The ground floor is dedicated to common spaces, which are designed to look more fluid and give the perception of being inside and outside the building at the same time.
Here the rooms are arranged on two different levels: from the entrance you go up four steps and then find yourself in a large living room, the hub of the house. From here you can then access the upper floor, reach the external area and the various collective rooms. Fixed furniture and floors contribute to the perception of being in separate, intimate environments.
Continuing towards the other side of the house there is a rectangular, very simple environment where the dining room is located.
You then can reach a second resting area, which provides the access to the service areas and the basement.
On the upper floor, on the other hand, spaces are separated: there is a single path connecting several corridors.
The relationship with the outside is very important and enhanced by large terraces. From the living room you can access the study or the two double bedrooms. Continuing along a narrow corridor, the perspective opens into a very bright room, the children’s playroom, connected to the single rooms. From here you can access other bedrooms for guests
Variations in the use of materials are a clear reference to the surrounding forest and involve the external walls of the house, alternating masonry, stained glass or just windows, to full height, with stone, wood, white painted bricks and blue majolica tiles.
Even the texture of the ceilings and floors is treated with different colors and materials, variously illuminated, as happens in the natural environment.
The same geometric figure gives the impression of dissolving, as it reaches the forest, with the protrusions of the first floor or curvilinear modulations analogous to the undulations of the forest
The supporting structure, in steel or wooden pillars, is arranged according to a mesh that doubles or triples the supports, arranging them as a continuous diaphragm at the entrance and in the internal staircase
The lighting design is very diverse creating a strong balance between natural and artificial light. The design used for outdoor lighting resumes the vegetable world.