Alvar Aalto's Healing Instrument
Heralded as revolutionary in design, Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium showcased the young architect’s uncanny ability to synthesize form and function for specific ends. Aalto won the commission to design the Finnish tuberculosis hospital in 1928, and, as he himself explained, “The main purpose of the building [was] to function as a medical instrument.” With the goal of patient wellbeing and rehabilitation foremost in mind, Aalto created a space that optimized daylight (considered highly beneficial for treating tuberculosis) and accommodated for social interaction through a wide range of communal spaces, including a library and workshops. Aalto worked closely with his wife Aino to personally see to the hospital’s interior, for which they personally developed custom lighting, furniture, and finishings.
Privileging the individual’s experience in his approach to every design problem, Aalto produced a building that transcended the brittle architectural doctrines of its period and which continues to radiate a profound sense of human empathy today.
Ellis Woodman on the Paimio Sanatorium, Architectural Review