Alvar Aalto changed the way we see the world. Finland’s famed architect and designer not only built path-breaking buildings – during his long, fruitful life, he also designed some of the 20th century’s most innovative furniture, textiles and glassware. Today, we’re proud to announce a partnership with the Alvar Aalto Foundation to bring much of this genius’s important work online – allowing anyone, anywhere to virtually visit many of his his most important buildings and learn about his design breakthroughs.
This project means something special to many of us at Google. We have built one of our two largest data centers in Finland – and the architect of our data center building was none other than Aalto. The Finnish master originally designed our data center in Hamina as a paper mill. The mill closed in 2007. We took over the empty building, transformed and expanded it, investing so far almost a billion euros and creating hundreds of jobs in the region, while attempting to keep intact as much as possible of the Aalto heritage. Take a look. We’re publishing new Street View images of the renovated exterior and interior today on our main data center page.
Aalto designed many other buildings in the area around our data center – including the world-famed Sunila worker housing in Kotka. We long have shown the outsides of these buildings on StreetView. We’re now adding the interiors.
Many of Aalto’s most famous buildings are located hundreds of kilometers apart, making them difficult to visit. We toured the entire country to photograph his most important masterpieces. We went to his hometown Jyvaskyla in central Finland and photographed the Alvar Aalto Museum and Säynätsalo Town Hall.
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We went to Imatra and are presenting the famed Church of the Three Crosses.
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In the Finnish capital Helsinki, we captured not only Aalto’s own studio but also two important cultural buildings, Finlandia Hall and the House of Culture. At the Restaurant Savoy, Aalto brought Finnish nature into the center of Helsinki, designing still-in-production door knobs, clean-lined lighting fixtures, club chairs, and the famed Savoy vase, mirroring the outlines of a Finnish lake.
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The cooperation with Finland’s Aalto Foundation includes two new online exhibitions on our Google Cultural Institute platform. The first focuses on Aalto’s famed three legged stool 60. This much imitated model relied on one of Aalto’s most important innovations – a new process for bending wood that he applied to create organic shapes. The stool was designed in 1933 and was first used in two major early works of Aalto: Paimio Sanatorium and Vyborg Library before becoming an iconic piece of modernist furniture for people to furnish their homes with.
A second exhibition describes the renovation of the Vyborg Library. The building was immediately considered a modernist chef d’oeuvre, softening and humanizing the hard edges of German Bauhaus strictures into a new original, organic style, replacing steel with wood, and creating a warm, cosy atmosphere for the reader. When the Library was constructed, the city of Viipuri was in Finland. After World War II, Finland was forced to hand it over to the Soviet Union and it became Vyborg. The library survived the war but remained unused for twenty years and fell into disrepair. Finally in 2013 the renovation was completed.
Together, these initiatives demonstrate our commitment and confidence in Finland. This is a hard time for the country, with growth slowing and unemployment rising. At the same time, our Hamina data centre keeps expanding and Internet infrastructure represent an important ray of economic hope. As this project demonstrates, we are committed to the country and are delighted to use the Internet to promote Finnish culture.
Posted by William Echikson, Head of Community Relations, Europe
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