Alvar Aalto, Three Exterior Views of the “Helsinki House of Culture”, (1958)
The House of Culture in Helsinki is Aalto in his ‘red brick period’. He achieves the free-form curves of the concert hall walls using wedge-shaped bricks, arranged variously with their shorter edge facing inside or outside the wall. The impact of the solid brick walls must be seen in the context of what had gone before. In Finland, the National-Romantics had used wood and granite to show closeness to Finnish nature, while the modern movement (as elsewhere) used more abstract white plaster surfaces (which did not wear well particularly in the Finnish climate). Aalto’s red brick was therefore a bigger statement than it now seems: a man-made material that keeps its individuality and local personality.