The Landscape of Alvar Aalto

Exhibitions at Safavi Museum & Aknoon Gallery, Isfahan, April 26–May 8, 2022, and at Khane Honar, Shiraz, May 13–June 1.

“Our buildings should not merely meet one or two aesthetic norms; they should be placed in the landscape in a natural way, in harmony with its general contours.” -Alvar Aalto 1925

The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) approached the landscape from the perspective of topography, always taking the specific character of the site as his starting point. He designed the areas surrounding his buildings as extensions of their interiors.

The exhibitions at Safavi Museum & Aknoon  Gallery, Isfahan, and Khane Honar, Shiraz, focus on themes such as orientation and contours, nature and the use of the bedrock, vegetation and water features, as well as on Aalto’s way of dealing with enclosed gardens and terraces. In 1969–70, after his visit in Iran, Aalto designed a new Art Museum for Shiraz on top of a small hill set in a green plain at the foot of the Zagros mountains north of the city. The exhibitions build a bridge between the main aspects of Aalto’s landscape thinking and the design for the unrealized Shiraz Art Museum. It includes some 40 archive photographs from the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s collections. The curator of the exhibition is the art historian Ms. Teija Isohauta.

“Aalto accentuated the naturalness of the surrounding landscape and vegetation, the way that the building was able to grow old in peace – to become a part of nature. Aalto also made copious use of water motifs in his architecture, something not found in the Finnish architecture tradition. In all his internationalism Aalto was a “son of the forest”, who understood the world of sound that water brings with it, and that babbling water adds a living element to the urban environment,” says the curator of the exhibition Teija Isohauta.

Ambassador of Finland to Iran, Kari Kahiluoto: “Alvar Aalto is a globally renowned Finn who left his trademark visionary impressions on the Finnish self-expression in buildings, furniture and objects of applied arts. Aalto modelled wood and glass in a new way. He developed techniques for the bending of wood to create both housing and public spaces, including customized furniture that still today represents the functionality and esthetics of the Finnish nature and the Finnish people. It is a great joy to have the exhibitions of Alvar Aalto in 2022 in Isfahan and Shiraz, cities known for the pearls of Islamic architecture.”

The exhibitions have been arranged in a collaboration between the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Embassy of Finland in Tehran, Safavi Museum & Aknoon Gallery, Isfahan and Khane Honar, Shiraz.

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) is known as one of Finland’s most international architects, who made an exceptionally wide-ranging and multifaceted career as an architect and designer. His oeuvre, which extends from the 1920s to the 1970s, is hallmarked by an integrated approach to design and takes in public buildings, private houses, areal planning, and furniture and glass design. Aalto’s architecture is characterized by freeform treatment of space, use of natural materials, and taking account of the surroundings in the design of each building, not forgetting user-centredness and functionality. Aalto worked in close collaboration with his first wife, the architect Aino Aalto (1894–1949), and their designs from the 1920s to 40s reflect an interest in the new trends in international modernism and in issues involved in the development of residential living. Aalto married his second wife, the architect Elissa Aalto (1922–1994), in 1952, and the couple’s work was marked by the major public building projects of the 1950s to 70s, both in Finland and abroad. Read more about the architect and his personal history at the Alvar Aalto Foundation´s web site: Alvar Aalto and Alvar Aalto´s Life.

Further information: Embassy of Finland in Tehran, Iran, Tel. +98 212 351 2000


The Landscape of Alvar Aalto


ISFAHAN: Safavi Museum & Aknoon Gallery. Address:  Aknoon: No. 135, Marnan St. Safavi: Khaghani St., Corner of Alley No. 31.

SHIRAZ: Khane Honar. Address: Eram St., End of 3rd Alley, Shiraz Art House.