Alvar Aalto, Shigeru Ban (Paper House), 1995, Lake Yamanaka, Yamanashi, Japan. Photo: Hiroyuki Hirai.


Alvar Aalto

Barbican Art Gallery
Barbican Centre Silk Street
February 22–May 13

Curated by Shigeru Ban and Tomoko Sato

Finnish architect Alvar Aalto said that “the Lord created paper for drawing architecture. Everything else is . . . misuse of paper.” So it is perhaps a grand irony that Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, recognized almost exclusively (albeit inadequately) for his innovative use of paper as a building material, is co-organizing (along with Tomoko Sato) the first British retrospective of Aalto’s work. Intended in part as a conversation between the two architects, the exhibition will not only present Aalto’s pioneering Nordic Modern work—which, it has been said, humanized modernism—but will also be a means of drawing out the unlikely similarities between the humanist Aalto and the humanitarian Ban. Along with explorations of twelve of Aalto’s most significant buildings and re-creations of some of their interiors, the show will investigate the ethical ramifications of architecture through the prism of these two kindred spirits’ works.