Aalto’s Ghost  

University Housing for Espoo, Finland

The project actively engages the history of the campus, based on an original master plan by Alvar Aalto. The architecture of the university, located near Helsinki, features a fascinating interplay of echoes, in which the image of an original architecture is replicated with different degrees of intensity, ranging from a few masterpieces by Aalto himself to the many utilitarian constructions that emulate them. The eight new housing blocks in the project, rendered in local red brick, reference the capacity of Aalto to create complexity by the repetition and rotation of simple elements. Sited in a protected natural area by the bay, the project proposes the ruin as a model for how architecture can mediate the relationship of humans with nature. The abstract architecture of the project fractures and steps down towards the shore as it enters in conversation with the continuous tree canopy. The brick walls around the buildings delaminate in order to protect a series of walled gardens that grant access to the vertical cores and operate as buffers that allow humans to feel in the midst of the forest without disturbing its other inhabitants.

© Jesús Vassallo, 2020