Essential Architecture-  Paris

Finnish Pavilion, 1937 demolished


Alvar Aalto


Paris, France


1935 to 1937


Early Modern




World Exposition, Paris, 1937

"Throughout the Paris Pavilion, Aalto's first overseas building, there was an immediate sense of the liveliness and originality of his new Finnish architecture. The importance of this pavilion and that for the New York World's Fair of 1939 cannot be overestimated, for they brought Aalto's work before an international public that was knowledgeable and discriminating about the new directions of architecture and design."

— Malcolm Quantrill. Alvar Aalto: a Critical Study. p83.

"The area designated for the Finnish Pavilion consisted of several acres close to the Trocadero, and it was thus possible to create a complete group of buildings with interior courts and gardens."

"The Exhibit took place partly in closed-in buildings and partly under the open sky in such a way that the visitor hardly noticed the change from interior room to open space. Architecturally, it was not the main composition which dominated—it was rather the individual groupings and the series of posts which were so conceived as to emphasize Finnish timber as both a structural element and wall surfacing"

— Karl Fleig. Alvar Aalto. Scarsdale: Wittenborn & Company. p75.


Alvar Aalto submitted two projects, while Aino Aalto entered one in the competition of 1935; they received three first prizes and the commission. The Pavilion was then built 1936 to 1937.

"The wooden parts of the Pavilion were fabricated in Finland and assembled by Finnish craftsmen. The upper portion of the Pavilion consisted of a steel framework whereby a combination of steel and wood was introduced as a main visual theme."

"The exterior skin of the Main Pavilion was an attempt to make this particular aspect of the scale of wood apparent. The interior spaces were a play of alternating combinations of white surfaces and wood, both on the walls and ceiling."

"In the Pavilions the visitors found themselves on different levels so that a part of the Exhibition could be experienced from above, as a panorama."

— Karl Fleig. Alvar Aalto. p74-81.