Aalto Residency at Säynätsalo Town Hall, Fall 2020

Dr.Tammy Gaber, Associate Professor,
Laurentian University, Canada

Dr. Tammy Gaber

I am a Canadian professor of Architecture and as part of my academic sabbatical I spent eight weeks at Säynätsalo Town Hall in the fall of 2020, the first half was the Aalto Residency program which I extended in order to complete further research.

During my time at Säynätsalo Town hall I went on several organized trips to relevant buildings designed by Alvar Aalto including: Muurame church, the Experimental house, Paimio Sanitorium and Villa Mairea. Through the residency program I was able to visit the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä many times and was able to enjoy several exhibitions. As well the residency organized my visit to the Artek factory in Turku, the Kuokkala church and
visits to small towns such as Rauma and a hike in Korpilahti. In addition to these organized tours I was able to request additional tours out of pocket to visit more Aalto buildings in Kauhajärvi, Alajärvi and in Seinäjoki including the townhall, library and church there.

When I wasn’t studying buildings I spent most of my time researching utilizing the spaces at Säynätsalo Town Hall such as the library and the dedicated office space I worked in, and I spent time at the Alvar Aalto archives as well. Living in an Alvar Aalto building was a very special experience, the apartment I had enjoyed western light and my office faced the east. Within the building, there was ample programming to support daily life including a lovely café, Leipomo-Kahvila AaBakery, the library, a sauna, and other facilities. Watching the seasons change in the fall I saw both the building and the island transform. The island of Säynätsalo is very beautiful and I enjoyed daily walks in the forest and bike rides through the neighboring islands especially to visit Table en Bois a wonderful café in
Muuratsalo. Everyone I met in Säynätsalo and Jyväskylä was very friendly and I met many local artists and made friends with some lovely people I will always remember.

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