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In 1966 I had visited the exhibition on Aalto at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Having bought the catalog, I had no more doubts: there was no other architect who aroused in me the curiosity to touch his creations with my own hands. The mutual admiration for Aalto of a high school friend of mine led us to plan a trip to Finland, once we were free from our study commitments we left by car for Helsinki. I transcribe from my travel notes: «August 16: Sanatorium of Paimio, solitary and immersed in a birch forest. We contemplate the details studied in the books face-to-face: the hospital rooms, illuminated according to the patient's horizontal position, with the light source outside his field of vision; the heating system with radiant panels on the ceiling, oriented towards the patient's feet, to remove the head from the heat source; the windows designed so that the sun's rays can penetrate the back of the room; the absence of sharp edges in every part of the building and a thousand other measures to protect the sick man. The art of building - Aalto suggested - is based on all the knowledge and emotions accumulated by man. His works bring to mind the ancient Finnish sagas of the Kalevala, the lakes, the uncontaminated spaces and the silences of the Nordic forests, confirming that architecture "comes from afar"; like feelings and instinct, it proceeds from the world of archetypes that have their roots in the dawn of life: the sea, the earth, the light of the sun.

Piergiacomo Bucciarelli

- interview by Greta Burtini for WOO_mezzometroquadro -

Paimio Sanatorium, 1928-33, view of the main bar intended for patients. © Alvar Aalto Museum

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