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Postcard, Brasilia, date unknown c. 1960s
BBC: The Inquiry
BBC World Service 2019
Itapoa, DF Brazil photograph (c) Joana Franca 2011
Brasilia: Life Beyond Utopia
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2016
Brasilia, DF Brazil photograph (c) Joana Franca 2011
Brasilia: Life Beyond Utopia
Architectural Design [April 2016]
McAslan Gallery: Emerging Architects
Two exhibitions for the McAslan Gallery
McAslan Gallery 2016
Edzell Castle, Angus
Edzell Castle: Architectural Treatises in Late 16th Century Scotland
Garden History Society 2014
Architecture and the Humanities
Architectural Research Quarterly 2014
Rio: Canal do Mangue Postcard
Urban Planning in Rio 1870-1930: the Construction of Modernity
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2014
London Tower Block
Review of Remaking London: Design and Regeneration in Urban Culture
Architectural Research Quarterly 2013
Oscar Niemeyer: House in Canoas, Rio de Janeiro
Life's a Beach: Oscar Niemeyer, Landscape and Women
The Rest is Noise Festival
South Bank, London 6 October 2013
Brasilia Tres Poderes
BBC: Last Word
BBC Radio 4 7 & 9 December 2012
Brasilia Tres Poderes
Brasilia: Fictions and Illusions
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2012
Nolli Plan of Rome
Connected Communities Symposium
University of Dundee 2011
Arup: White Building, St John's College Oxford
Architecture + ESI: an architect's perspective
FESI [The UK Forum for Engineering Structural Integrity] 2011
Booth Poverty Map of London
Review of Mapping London
Architectural Research Quarterly 2010
RIAS: landworkers exhibition
Dundee Contemporary Arts
14-28 May 2009
Antonio Carlos Elias: Epulis Fissuratum
The Studio of Antonio Carlos Elias
Epulis Fissuratum [Brasilia 2006]
Thomas Deckker: superquadra penthouse project
Superquadra Penthouse Project
Penthouse Living
[Wiley 2005]

Arquivo Brasilia
Arquivo Brasilia
Sala Martins Penna
Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro
19-20 April 2005

Revisiting Brazil: View of Exhibition
Revisiting Brazil
RIBA Gallery 2
9-30 October 2003

Houston Car Park
Urban Entropies: A Tale of Three Cities
Architectural Design [September 2003]
Guedes Apartment, Sao Paulo
New Architecture in Brazil
- Photographs by Michael Frantzis

Brazilian Embassy, London
5-6 March 2003
Joaquim Gudes: Kerti House, Sao Paulo
Natural Spirit (Places to Live 007)
Wallpaper* [January/February 2003]
Wallpaper*: Architects Directory
Architects Directory
Wallpaper* [July/August 2002]
RIBA Journal: Foreign Legion
Foreign Legion
RIBA Journal [March 2002]
Le Corbusier: Heidi Weber Pavilion, Zurich photograph (c) Thomas Deckker 1996
Architects and Technology
The Encyclopaedia of Architectural Technology [London: Wiley 2002]
Mission Concepcion (1755) San Antonio, Texas
Mexican-American Architecture
Mexican-American Encyclopaedia [2002]
W3 Brasilia 1960s Archive Photograph
Canberra / Brasilia
Canberra Contemporary Art Space [Canberra: CASC 2001]
Oscar Niemeyer: Congresso Nacional Brasilia
In the Realm of the Senses
Architectural Design [July 2001]
Thomas Deckker: Magalhaes House
Thomas Deckker: Two Projects in Brasilia
Architectural Design [Oct 2000]
Degree Unit G: Mexico 1997-98
First International Seminar on the Teaching of the Built Environment [SIEPAC]
University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
13-15 Sept 2000

Thomas Deckker: The Modern City Revisited
The Modern City Revisited
[London: Routledge 2000]

Thomas Deckker (editor): Issues in Architecture Art & Design
Issues in Architecture Art & Design
vol. 6 no. 1 [University of East London 2000]
Luigi Snozzi: Monte Carasso, Bellinzona photograph (c) Thomas Deckker 1982
The re-invention of the site
Relating Landscape to Architecture
[London: Routledge 1999]
The Modern City Revisted Conference
The Modern City Revisited
University of East London
27/28 Mar 1999
Luigi Snozzi: Kalman House, Locarno photograph (c) Thomas Deckker 1982
Monte Carasso: The re-invention of the site
Issues in Architecture Art & Design vol. 5 no. 2 [University of East London 1998]
Donald Judd: Chinati Foundation, Texas
Specific Objects / Specific Sites
Rethinking the Architecture / Landscape Relationship, University of East London,
26-28 Mar 1996
Herzog & deMeuron: Hebelstrasse Apartments, Basle
Herzog & deMeuron
Issues in Architecture Art & Design vol. 3 no. 2 [University of East London 1994]
Alvar Aalto: Riola Parish Church, Bologna photograph (c) Thomas Deckker 1981
Alvar Aalto: Riola Parish Church, Bologna
photograph (c) Thomas Deckker 1981

Architects and Technology Index

The Encyclopaedia of Architectural Technology [London: Wiley 2002]

Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto was born in 1898 and grew up in Jyvaeskalae in central Finland, at a time when Finland was still a province of Russia; it fought for and gained its independence during the Revolution in 1917, and again during the Second World War against both the Soviet Union and Germany. National identity was of particular importance; Aalto started in the nationalistic classical style of his contemporaries but converted to the Modern Movement during the 1920s.

Three buildings established Aalto's credentials as a Modern Movement architect: the competition entry for the Municipal Library, Viipuri (1927; built 1930-35), and the Turun Sanomat newspaper offices (1927-29) and the Paimio Sanatorium (1928; built 1929-33) in the culturally independent city of Turku. Even in these early works, however, one can see a divergence from programmatic Modernism in the environmental and constructional adaptations, as well as the aesthetic preferences. The asymmetrical columns in the production hall of the Turun Sanomat building - one of its most famous images - showed Aalto moving away for the formality of the Modern Movement; the double windows in the Paimio Sanatorium acted as a moderating device for incoming air. The ceiling of the concert hall in the Viipuri Library, supposedly justified on acoustic grounds, was an experiment in sensuous wood architecture.

It was experiments with wood - Finland's most abundant natural resource - which signalled a change in direction away from the Modern Movement. The first use was in the open-air bandstand at the '700 Years of Turku' exhibition (1929). Aalto started to use timber screens to relieve the severity of the otherwise white-rendered geometric volumes of the staff housing at the Paimio Sanatorium; these became external screens of larch poles joined with wicker at the workers housing at Kauttua (1937-40). This expanded into the wholesale use of timber cladding on his house in Munksnaes (1934; built 1935-36). The Finnish Pavilion for the Paris World's Fair (1937) had external walls wrapped in timber sections and columns of larch poles joined with wicker, perhaps as a metaphorical representation of a forest; that for the New York World's Fair (1939) had a 4-storey internal curved exhibition wall of timber.

The Villa Mairea, Noormarku (1937-39) is a virtuoso display of Aalto's preoccupations of the period. Floors and ceilings were clad with boards; walls were clad in various timber sections; the columns of the entrance canopy were of rough timber poles; a sauna was made of untreated logs. The internal structure was also highly varied, with groups of steel and concrete columns, some clad in wicker, timber sections or leather, supporting the concrete floor slabs. The double layers of windows were of widely mixed sizes with ventilators of separate wooden shutters.

Aalto experimented with timber not only in architecture, but also in furniture and works of sculpture. His major invention was a joint consisting of thin lamina of wood inserted into saw-cuts in a solid timber section; this, by weakening the cross-section, allowed the section to be bent, and then set solid again by gluing the lamina. This was evident not only in the legs of table and chairs he promoted through his furniture company Artek, but also in purely experimental pieces. The sensuousness of the forms and material also found expression in his designs for cast glass and cast bronze door handles.

Aalto had great opportunities in Finland after the Second World War in response to the need for reconstruction and to Finland's economic development. He developed architectural solutions as distinct 'types' in which social, programmatic and technical solutions could be refined. These 'types' included libraries, theatres, museums, churches, town halls, offices and housing. While no common features can be ascribed to such a diverse set of 'types', many common features abound, particularly informal plan shapes highly responsive to the geography of the context, large internal social spaces intended not only as functional areas but as replacements for outdoor space in the hostile climate, and extraordinary attention to the manipulation of light through windows and rooflights.

The Rautatalo Office Building, Helsinki (1951: built 1953-55), the Vuoksenniska church, Imatra (1956; built 1957-59) and the Rovaniemi Library (1963; built 1965-68) epitomized the spatial and material qualities and showed the range of invention of Aalto's 'types'. The Rautatalo Building is noticeable for the highly refined bronze cladding of its very austere facade and the travertine-clad internal atrium lit by round skylights. The Vuoksenniska Church, whose nave is often described as a series of 'hands', has extraordinary double-layered light hoods. The Rovaniemi Library has a fan-shaped plan with light hoods over the reading and stack areas.

At this time Aalto began to regard brick and ceramic tiles as appropriate cladding, and in some cases structural, materials, not least to avoid the problems of the weathering of concrete and render finishes. His own holiday house on the island of Muuratsalo (1953) is an example of the latter, with facades made of varied types and sizes of brick. Brick was also used for the town hall on the adjacent island of Saeynatsaelo (1949; built 1950-52) and the Pensions Institute, Helsinki (1948-56). In the 'House of Culture', Helsinki (1955-58), concrete was used as a plastic material clad in glazed tiles, similar to Roman roof tiles, which could accommodate the changes in angle.

Aalto's buildings have a profound material presence due to the sensuous use of materials and to the craftsmanship with which they were executed. Most buildings are signaled by his trademark cast bronze door handle, often stacked 3 high for various heights of user. It is a tribute to Aalto's skill that his buildings still function well without excessive programmes of maintenance or environmental problems.
Thomas Deckker
London 2001