Acts of Symbiosis: A Literary Analysis of the Work of Rogelio Salmona and Alvar Aalto

Klaske Havik

Abstract


Presenting a double reading of architectural spaces, this article aims to bring together works of the architects Alvar Aalto and Rogelio Salmona and identify some shared themes in their architectural approaches. While using literary description as a mode of architectural investigation, it shows how the use of writing in architectural analysis can bring to the surface some of the more ephemeral aspects of architecture, such as embodied perception, memory and use - aspects that contribute to the very meaning of architecture but that are hard to describe in purely factual terms.

By experiential descriptions, the article will give an account of two projects of each architect, based on my own repeated visits to these buildings over the past two decades. The projects include Centro Gaitan in Bogotá, the Virgilio Barco Library in Bogotá, Colombia (Rogelio Salmona, 2001), Helsinki University of Technology and the Viipuri City Library of Alvar Aalto. The comparitive descriptions will show that the resonances between the work of both architects goes beyond their similar use of brick and their preferences for certain geometries, but rather concern the humanism that lay at the basis of both their architectural practices, a human interest translated into form, materiality and light.


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