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Alvar Aalto Symposium focuses on the role of architects amidst change

Old man in a wooden boat.

Alvar Aalto Foundation

The 16th Alvar Aalto Symposium will be held in Jyväskylä 22–23 August.

The built environment plays a huge role in climate change, including in its prevention. Architects' responsibility for environmental stewardship, sustainability and community resilience is increasingly growing. How are the changes reflected in architects’ work?

The Alvar Aalto Symposium is an international discussion forum on contemporary architecture held every three years. This year, the theme is "The weight of architecture". The symposium’s main programme, held in English on 22–23 August, can be followed on site in the Assembly Hall of the University of Jyväskylä’s Main Building or via streaming.

On Thursday 22 August, an opening debate in Aalto2 Museum Centre will discuss planetary boundaries, and ecological, social and economic sustainability. The debate, open to everyone, will be hosted by Aalto University, Tampere University and the University of Oulu.

The symposium’s main programme will continue at the University of Jyväskylä’s Main Building, starting with the theme "Environment", featuring Pritzker Prize-winning architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects from Dublin, architectural historian Barnabas Calder from the University of Liverpool, architects Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki and Samuli Woolston of ALA Architects from Helsinki, and climate scientist and IIASA Director John Schellnhuber from Laxenburg, Vienna.

The Finnish Association of Architects will host a discussion focusing on issues of money, politics and power with, among others, architect Anders Adlercreutz, the Finnish Government Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering. Thursday will culminate in the 15th Alvar Aalto Medal award ceremony and a celebration at Aalto2.

The themes of the second day of the symposium, Friday 23 August, are resources and architecture – the work of the architect in a rapidly changing work environment. The theme of "Resources" will be presented by Hilda Rantanen, CEO of Materialisting from Helsinki, David Benjamin, Associate Professor at Columbia University (GSAPP) from New York, Ehab Sayed, founder of Biohm from London, and Thomas Brogren, architect and project manager of Realdania from Copenhagen. 

Weighing in on the importance of "Architecture" will be architect, writer and professor Helena Mattsson of the KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm, and architects Emma Johansson and Willem van Bolderen from Studio Puisto Architects in Helsinki. The discussion organised by Archinfo, the information centre for Finnish architecture, Exhibiting care and repair, features Matti Jänkälä and Ella Kaira, architects and curators of the Pavilion of Finland at the Biennale Architettura 2025 in Venice, and Kaisa Karvinen, architect and curator at the joint Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Museum. The discussion is moderated by architect Miina Jutila from Archinfo.

Friday will culminate in the Finnish premiere of Bêka & Lemoine’s film The Sense of Tuning, an enchanting portrait of the architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, an Alvar Aalto Medalist from 2020. The film screening will be open for everyone.

The symposium's side programme includes a boat cruise, guided tours of the Aalto sites in Jyväskylä, and guided bus tours "Aalto West" (Villa Mairea, and Paimio Sanatorium, full) and "Aalto East" (Church of the Three Crosses, Imatra, and Sunila residential area). 

The Alvar Aalto Symposium is organised by the Alvar Aalto Academy, which focuses on further training in the renovation and preservation of modern architecture as well as seminar events, and is part of the Alvar Aalto Foundation. Archinfo is one of the symposium's collaborative partners.

For more information on the symposium programme and tickets, click here.