Alvar Aalto and Humanizing of Architecture

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to review Aalto's design conception on the basis of his critique of technology-oriented rationalism. Arguably, his critical attitude was best illustrated in his article 'The Humanizing of Architecture' (1940), which anticipates Adorno and Horkheimer's criticism against instrumentalized rationality (1944). For Aalto, true rationalism should be synthetic in order to cover all fields of human activities. However, man is not only a rational being but also a player. Aalto's argument for the relevance of play in architecture corresponds to Johan Huizingha's theory of Homo Ludens or 'Man the Player'. Play elements in Aalto's design complements the unbalanced formula between form and function in architecture by covering humanitarian and psychological aspects. These elements are often proved to be astonishingly rational as he maintained, and symbolically functional in many cases. Nonetheless, all the discourses concerning Aalto's architecture eventually converge on original matters concerning architecture, man and nature - architecture mediates man and nature. This relationship is reflected in Aalto's design, directly and indirectly as well as practically and metaphorically, which is more fundamental than any other superlative theories. Therefore, this paper maintains that his architecture has a timeless value and that he demonstrated an example of humanizing architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May 16


  • Alvar Aalto
  • Humanizing of architecture
  • Modern architecture
  • Play
  • Rationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Cultural Studies
  • Building and Construction
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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