Telegram from A. Aalto to Aalto U.

We will soon be part of a new University in Finland, called Aalto University.

“Aalto University is created through a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.”

The name Aalto is making references to Alvar and Aino Aalto, a Finnish architect and designer couple. Actually, people keep on forgetting Aino in here, though she was definitely a better designers (maybe even a better architect) than her husband.

For many years I have had on my wall of my office a print of a telegram Alvar Aalto sent in 1958 for the Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities and Social Science, John Burchard.

The main point of the short message is that he is not willing to write about the philosophy of his architecture but rather think that his pieces of work are able to do the job better than any words. Finally, he is willing to make a strong and bold statement:

“… the enemy number one today is modern formalism, non traditional, where inhuman elements are dominating. True architecture, the real thing, is only where man stands in center.”

The telegram is available in the MIT’s online archives.

Now when building the new University we should listen carefully Alvar (and Aino) and their attitude. Maybe even learn something from them. My main points:

  • Should we do art, design and media or philosophy of art?
  • Should we put people in the center?

If you ask me, my opinion is that the right answer to the first questions is that we should do both. Answer to the second question? We should – always.

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