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ALVAR AALTO'S BOAT


Alvar Aalto aboard his boat at the shore of the summer cottage.

Alvar Aallo's summer cottage so called Muuratsalo experimental house was built on the Velakallio rock 1954. There was no road the cottage and therefore Aalto designed a special motorboat for transferring him and his family to the summer cottage. As a model Aalto used the drawings of the National Board of Navigation.


The Master of boats Lauri Kosola in his boatyard.

The boat was built under the direction of the Master of boats Lauri Kosola at his own boatyard in Muuratsalo. Kosola started the professional boat manufacturing at his boatyard already in 1945 and during the years hundreds of different types of boats were made by the hands of Lauri Kosola mainly for the waves of the northern Päijänne.


Väinö Jokinen

As an assistant making the Aalto's boat Lauri Kosola had his neighbour Väinö Jokinen who had also been one of the builders when the Säynätsalo municipal centre, Aaltos' summer cottage and sauna were made.


The boat, which Aalto designed is 10,5 m long, little more than 2 m wide and by the cabin 2,5 m high and it weights almost 2000 kg. Originally boat had an American midship marinemotor with 96 hp and 6 cylinders. In order to make the landing more easy the bow has been designed according to the shore shape of the rock Velakallio, where the summer cottage locates.

Väinö Jokinen has recollected, that this boat building was very tough; in many cases drawings were missing and when Mr Aalto delived them, parts already made were taken off and rebuilt again. Especially the cabin roof was very hard to build. Altogether the whole boat may have been built twice. So far as is known Aalto has not made in any other planning project proportionally so many sketches than of his boat.

On completion of the boat it has been modified by heightening the front sides in order to prevent the water breaking in from the bow. Because of its structure the boat was very easy to get leaky and it leaked every spring before the boards managed to get swollen enought. This is the reason why the boat has even sunk couple of times.


Aaltos´ boat was launched for the first time at 7.9.1955. Aalto gave the boat the name NEMO PROPHETA IN PATRIA (No-one is a prophet in their own land), which appears to refer to the feelings of the already internationally recognized architect towards his position in his own country.


Alvar Aalto himself may not have been very keen on driving his own boat, but his wife Elissa Aalto handled the quite cumbersom and front loaded boat from starting in a very professional way.


After Alvar Aaltos death in 1976 the boat was transferred for the use of his family to the archipelago of Turku, but the seaworthy of the boat was poor and the boat returned back to Säynätsalo after being f.ex. sunk at the bottom of the sea. Aaltos heir donated the boat to the Alvar Aalto museum, which placed it to the Juurikkasaari island at the front of Säynätsalo. At the end of 1980´s a shed around the boat was built according to the drawings of Elissa Aalto.


The boat was transferred from Juurikkasaari to the shore of the experimental house in Muuratsalo. Because even today there is no road to the location site the transfer was planned to be made by the airforce heavy transport helicopter. The transport attempt was carried out at 15.5.1998 during the beautiful spring afternoon.


Airforce transport helicopter at 15.5.1998 in Lehtisaari.

After many troubles the boat was lifted by the helicopter but already at the height of 5..6 meter the boat started to spin at more and more intensive speed along with the current of air made by the helicopter rotors. The spinning boat hanging in a cable of the helicopter most likely would have started to oscillate and therefore the transportation was interrupted and the boat was lowered back to the ground.

The boat was transported later 23.6.1998 by water on pontoons to the shore of the experimental house in Muuratsalo and was towed using vinches and glued woodbeams and plywood plates to the right position. A shed is built around the boat in Muuratsalo. International planning competition had been arranged and the winner was a group of Danish architect students.

For more information the boat shelter...Click here.

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