Arts and Crafts Architecture
Picture Tour

Villa Hvitträsk (page 3 of 7)

Courtyard view of Saarinen's own house. Photo by Howard J. Partridge.

Courtyard View of the Saarinen House (South Wing)
Villa Hvitträsk near Luoma, Finland

Eliel Saarinen created this delightful home for his own family in collaboration with his partners, Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren, between 1901 and 1904.  Like the other buildings in the complex, it is an excellent example of Finland's National Romantic style.  The style took much of its inspiration from an epic poem called the Kalevala.  It is a collection of Finnish folklore that Elias Lönnrot put to verse and first published in 1835.  Lönnrot's work helped generate recognition of Finnish language and culture, and helped launch Finland's final quest for independence.

The architecture that drew upon imagery of the Kalevala was a local interpretation of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.  It was a subtle blend of the philosophy of John Ruskin and William Morris, late 19th century Romanticism, and traditional Finnish building materials, methods, and spirit.  It also contained a healthy dose of Jugendstil, the Germanic and Scandinavian version of Art Nouveau.  The buildings at Hvitträsk embody all of this.  Saarinen, Gesellius, and Lindgren carefully crafted buildings of stone, plaster, shingles, and logs that are completely at ease with their heavily forested and rocky surroundings.  The medieval quality to the structures was meant to recall the settings in the Kalevala.  But the architects were not slaves to historicism here, their design reinterprets the past in the most avant garde manner.  This becomes even more apparent upon study of Hvitträsk's details and interiors.  Eliel Saarinen's home is open to the public as a house museum that showcases Arts and Crafts design in Finland.  Photograph taken in 1982 by Howard J. Partridge.

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