Screenshot of Google's Street View for Alvar Aalto.
Courtesy Google Screenshot of Google's Street View for Alvar Aalto.

The Alvar Aalto Foundation has teamed up with Google to present eight of Aalto’s projects to the world through the internet behemoth’s Street View feature. Virtual explorers can now visit the foundation’s museum as well as the interiors of several of Aalto’s most prominent buildings—and a few lesser-known gems—all in the architect’s home country of Finland.

According to Alvar Aalto Foundation director Tommi Lindh, Google approached the group about the project first, choosing locations with a concentration of Aalto projects and Google data centers. The collaboration capitalizes on Google’s existing (exterior) Street View technology, which uses 360-degree panoramic imaging to create realistic (although sometimes dated) street-level imagery, to produce similar interior walkthroughs of Aalto’s projects, starting with the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä. The result is a dynamic, virtual experience that allows for far more spatial understanding than is possible through still photographs.

“This is a major step towards truly experiencing existing architecture through the net. It's much more realistic than watching a movie or a slideshow,” Lindh says. “You can move in the interiors freely at your own pace. You can stop and admire the details for as long as you want. The resolution is high enough to be able to move very close to objects and surfaces.”

In addition to the interactive building walkthroughs, Google and the Aalto Foundation have produced a pair of exhibitions for Google’s online Cultural Institute: A look at the restoration history of Aalto’s Vyborg Library, and a web-based version of a Museum-produced exhibition entitled A Stool Makes History, which examines Aalto’s iconic three-legged Stool 60. Stool 60 was popular enough to be reproduced by Artek on the occasion of its 80th anniversary.