Elissa Aalto – The forgotten SOS Lapsikylä

Elissa Aalto (b. Elsa Kaisa Mäkiniemi) (1922-1994) graduated in architecture from the @aaltouniversity or Helsinki University of Technology as it was called in 1949, and the same year she joined the office of #AlvarAalto, whom she later married in 1952.

At the time of their marriage Aalto was involved in the construction of the @saynatsalotownhall, and it was during that time that he acquired a nearby lakeside island plot where he built a summer home – the so-called #AlvarAaltoExperimentalHouse – for himself and his new wife.

She was involved in all competition projects the office undertook, and after Alvar Aalto’s death in 1976 she managed the office and completed the unfinished projects, such as the #AaltoTheatre (Essen Opera House). She was also involved in alteration projects and the restoration of Aalto buildings, including the #RovaniemiTownHall.

In 1964 Albin and Aino Gebhardt donated land in Tapiola on which to build housing for orphans through the organization @soslapsikyla. Elissa Aalto designed the houses and the first ones were ready in 1966, with Helli Nykänen acting as the main caretaker. The first children were from the same family of nine. The tables and benches of the house were donated by the local @lionsclubs, the beds by @s_ryhma, the night tables by @askohuonekalut and curtains by a local family. There was even a piano in every house. Finland’s first ‘children’s village’ was completed in 1970, and could accommodate 70 children.

These houses are now abandoned and will soon be torn down to make room for new money housing. It’s a darn shame.

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