Architecture on Film: Aalto

An intimate journey through the work, life and character of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto – one of the 20th century’s greatest modern designers.


12:00am, Monday, 15 March 2021


11:59pm, Friday, 30 April 2021


This film is available to audiences in the UK and Ireland, exclusively via Barbican Cinema on Demand, from 15 March - 30 April 2021.



AF Members:
£4.00 (Please contact AF for promotional discount code)

This is a past event


From the breakthroughs of his Paimio Sanitorium, lauded Artek furniture, and 1938 exhibition at MoMA, we accompany the architect over his 50 year career, as the world changes around him. A treasure trove of archival material – including Aalto’s own letters and unseen home movies – combines with footage of landmark projects and reflective narration from a multitude of experts (including Juhani Pallasmaa, Alfred Roth and Mark Lee) to tell the story of the master of human-centred modernism.

“It’s life that we must save, not just make different forms.”
– Alvar Aalto 

From creative exchanges with Moholy Nagy, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright to Aalto’s run in with Albert Speer, from Alvar’s ‘bohemian’ promiscuity and liberal drinking to his strong ambition and family commitment, the web and texture of Aalto’s life and work, influences and influence, comes to light, alongside the remarkable clarity of his architectural vision.

But as this film also illuminates most brightly, there was more than one Aalto. Alvar’s two wives, architects Aino and Elissa, his partners in love and work, played key roles in the office’s creative output.

Through a combination of biography, an architectural tour, two love stories and the architect’s own words and images, Aalto offers a cinematic portrait of Aalto’s singular vision, and the passion for life, love and design from which it was woven.

(Finland, 2020, Virpi Suutari, 102 min)