The Aalto Boat

The Finnish architect was a visionary completest—and an amateur boatman.

  • Words Laura Hall

In the spring of 2023, the only boat ever designed by Alvar Aalto was displayed for the first time in Jyväskylä harbor following extensive renovation. Designed by the Finnish architect in the early 1950s, the black-hulled wooden motorboat was used for shopping, island hopping trips and guest transport to and from his experimental summerhouse on Muuratsalo island in Lake Päijänne, central Finland. 

It would be natural to assume that Aalto’s boat is a work of genius, a boat that redefines what a floating vessel can be in a humanistic, functional-yet-elegant tradition, like his architecture itself. But what makes it all the more remarkable is how unremarkable it is. In fact, this relatively mundane boat tells the story of an architect who was just as fallible as anyone else.  

The ...

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