Alvar Aalto and the industrial origins of Finnish 1940s community planning

Markku Norvasuo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In Finland the construction of post-war neighbourhoods started in 1950, but its ideological background was in the planning of the 1940s. As has been shown, the principles of Anglo-American neighbourhood unit planning and regional planning influence the structural principles that were adopted for neighbourhood units. This paper presents another narrative for the period by analysing the work of the architect Alvar Aalto, who was a pioneer of Finnish regional planning and was significantly active in community planning. After having established good relations with Finnish industry, he got the chance to develop his own community planning principles. They became close to the principles of neighbourhood unit planning but, at the same time, were personal and extended beyond them. This paper examines in closer detail three of Aalto's plans and the way he combined planning and building design. In this way it is possible to better understand the ideas of the 1940s and the importance of Finnish industry during this time. Aalto's activity during the 1940s also explains his success in later decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-251
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • 1940s
  • Alvar Aalto
  • industry
  • neighbourhood planning
  • regional planning


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