Paimio Sanatorium

Paimio, Finland

Paimio Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The building was completed in 1932, and soon after received critical acclaim both in Finland and abroad. The building served exclusively as a tuberculosis sanatorium until the early 1960s, when it was converted into a general hospital. Today the building is part of the Turku University Hospital. The sanatorium was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Aalto received the commission to design the building after winning an architectural competition for the project held in 1929. Though the building represents the 'modernist' period of Aalto's career, and followed many of the tenets of Le Corbusier's pioneering ideas for modernist architecture (e.g. ribbon windows, roof terraces, machine aesthetic), it also carried the seeds of Aalto's later move towards a more synthetic approach. For instance, the main entrance is marked by a nebulous-shaped canopy unlike anything being designed at that time by the older generation of modernist architects. The building is widely regarded as one of his most important early designs — designed at the same time as the Vyborg Library. Aalto and his wife Aino designed all of the sanatorium's furniture and interiors. Some of the furniture, most notably the Paimio chair, is still in production by Artek.

Aalto's starting point for the design of the sanatorium was to make the building itself a contributor to the healing process. He liked to call the building a "medical instrument". For instance, particular attention was paid to the design of the patient bedrooms: these generally held two patients, each with his or her own cupboard and washbasin. Aalto designed special non-splash basins, so that the patient would not disturb the other while washing. The patients spent many hours lying down, and thus Aalto placed the lamps in the room out of the patients line of vision and painted the ceiling a relaxing dark green so as to avoid glare. Each patient had their own specially designed cupboard, fixed to the wall and off the floor so as to aid in cleaning beneath it.

In the early years the only known "cure" for tuberculosis was complete rest in an environment with clean air and sunshine. Thus on each floor of the building, at the end of the patient bedroom wing, were sunning balconies, where weak patients could be pulled out in their beds. Healthier patients could go and lie on the sun deck on the very top floor of the building. As the patients spent a long time—typically several years—in the sanatorium, there was a distinct community atmosphere among both staff and patients; something which Aalto had taken into account in his designs, with various communal facilities, a chapel, as well as staff housing, and even specially laid out promenade routes through the surrounding forest landscape. In the 1950s the disease could be partly dealt with by surgery and thus a surgery wing, also designed by Aalto, was added. Soon after, antibiotics saw the virtual end of the disease, and the number of patients was reduced dramatically and the building was converted into a general hospital.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1932
Category:
Historical period: Independency (Finland)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

ake play YT (3 years ago)
Älkää tulko
kauhukersa (3 years ago)
älkää vaan tulko tänne.
Juha Mattila (3 years ago)
Alvar Aalto Funktionalismi Sairaala
Max Koso (3 years ago)
A must visit for Aalto-fans. Some really special and awesome designs.
Fiia Virtanen (4 years ago)
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.