1

Taken from AALTO, A. (1970) (published in Spanish in «Palabra y por escrito», Editorial El Croquis, Madrid, 2000.

2

BACHELARD, G., «La tierra y las ensoñaciones del reposo» in México D.F.: Fondo de cultura económica, p.211 (2006), cited by DE BENITO, A. «La casa como escenario lúdico los objetos subvertidos. El jugar como acción creativa y experimental en el entorno cotidiano» in REIA #07-08, 2017.

3

A concept derived from the term espacio umbral (“threshold space”), coined by CABANELLAS, I. / ESLAVA, C. (2005) in «Territorios de la infancia. Diálogos entre arquitectura pedagogía», Editorial Gráo, Barcelona.

Dwelling (I): Underneath Household Objects

Drawing: Children playing under a Tudor table, drawn by Xavier Monteys.

«The white table is big. Possibly the biggest table in the world, at least in the world and the tables I know. Solidly built, and with a top more than seven centimetres thick, the table dominates the biggest room in the family home. (…)

It’s so big that twelve of my father’s assistants can sit around it (…)The big table had two storeys. Precision instruments were scattered about in the middle: a steel ruler up to three metres long, a compass, a scale ruler and things like that. (…)

That was the workplace; but, as I said, the table had two storeys.

In the lower storey, I lived from the moment I learned to crawl on all fours. It was like a spacious square that belonged to me and me alone. Later, when I was older, I was ready to be moved up to the upper storey, the white table top itself. (…)

The white table of my childhood was a big table. It has kept growing. I have done my life’s work on it. »1

At the early age of four, Alvar Aalto can’t have known that by playing under the table he was subverting an object. Or that what his father and his assistants may have considered a residual space was, for him, attractive as a tailor-made play space. Or that the table was a 1:1 scale shelter in which his horizontal line of sight–eighty-five centimetres–established a relationship between his own body and the space it inhabited. The White Table formed a cabin: a house within a house, as Gaston Bachelard defined it2: «a refuge that suggests taking possession of a world. However precarious it may be, it provides all our dreams of security». And without his realising it, that household object came to contribute to the construction of Aalto’s childhood imaginary, as expressed in 1970 when he recalled his spatial experience as a child around his father’s white table.

He spoke of how the main room in the house was transformed through that table, which adapted over time to meet his needs in the different stages of his life: a place to hide and shelter, a workspace…The transformation of this household object was determined by Aalto’s own evolution as a user and by how he used it, not by the domestic space in which it stood.

For Aalto’s father, the table was a support on which he worked and around which he met his assistants. For Aalto, the table became the threshold-object3 separating his world from that of the adults inside the huge domestic space where they all lived. As a recreational threshold-object, the white table facilitated transition from one space to another, and its dual spatiality made it possible to differentiate between adjacent domains – the adult world and the children’s world – while at the same time configuring one single milieu: the home space in which Aalto grew up.

In his early childhood, Aalto made the table his refuge, a space “not visible” to adults which must very often have become a meeting place for him and other children. A few years later, he would leave that “cave” and build his own refuge using other objects in the household like chairs, carpets, blankets and cushions. In time, Aalto grew up and, in one way or another, the construction of those spaces marked his life.

Notas de página
1

Taken from AALTO, A. (1970) (published in Spanish in «Palabra y por escrito», Editorial El Croquis, Madrid, 2000.

2

BACHELARD, G., «La tierra y las ensoñaciones del reposo» in México D.F.: Fondo de cultura económica, p.211 (2006), cited by DE BENITO, A. «La casa como escenario lúdico los objetos subvertidos. El jugar como acción creativa y experimental en el entorno cotidiano» in REIA #07-08, 2017.

3

A concept derived from the term espacio umbral (“threshold space”), coined by CABANELLAS, I. / ESLAVA, C. (2005) in «Territorios de la infancia. Diálogos entre arquitectura pedagogía», Editorial Gráo, Barcelona.

Autor:
Arquitecta por la ETSAS (2017). Su proyecto final de carrera Paisajes Domésticos: sobre la arquitectura, lo social y el juego ha sido seleccionado en la Bienal de Venecia 2018. Creatividad, ganas e ilusión por mejorar cada día son características que la definen. Actualmente estudia el Máster de Diseño de Instalaciones en Arquitectura y Eficiencia Energética.

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