Spirit of Paimio 2024 Theme

With the iconic sanatorium by Alvar and Aino Aalto as a starting point and backdrop, curator Joseph Grima, known for his design practice Space Caviar, and Mirkku Kullberg, CEO of the Paimio Sanatorium Foundation, have put together a programme around the theme Reimagining Community.

The conversation will take as its starting point the following statement by Alvar Aalto:

“Building art is a synthesis of life in materialised form. We should try to bring in under the same hat not a splintered way of thinking, but all in harmony together.”

The idea of “togetherness” is a thread running throughout much of the Aaltos’ work, and, read from a contemporary perspective, resonates with the practice of community-building through design. Despite being an early work, Paimio Sanatorium represents one of the most ambitious endeavours in this direction by the Aalto studio – or any other, for that matter – and it is for this reason that will form the basis for Spirit of Paimio 2024 edition.

“The Sanatorium was closely linked to an idea of reciprocal support. By design, each floor of the hospital was a community of its own. It was a building that allowed people to relate intimately, but also a microcosm of society, encouraging dialogue between people. They shared a disease, but they also shared a human experience. Individual creativity, human culture and awareness of natural cycles are just some of the areas around which Aalto envisaged communities forming at Paimio”, explains Grima.

“Looking at the state of the world today, we need to recalibrate the sense of community. We need each other to be able to deal with everything that’s happening around us”, Kullberg adds.

Spirit of Paimio 2024 will be an opportunity to look to new visions of community and their relevance in a technologically-empowered era. Now that the togetherness Aalto advocated is no longer dependent on spatial proximity, what will the consequences be for the human experience? What can be learnt from the tangible architecture of the Aalto’s masterpiece and transposed into the community-building practices of the years to come?

Last year’s inaugural conference focused on the future of the sanatorium beyond its position as a global landmark of functionalist architecture. The 2024 edition will ask: how can the original spirit behind the Aaltos’ design, which put great emphasis on the healing properties of architecture and its relationship with the human body, be best honoured today?

The conference will continue where last year’s gathering left off, building on the ideas that guided Alvar and Aino Aalto when they realised the project almost 100 years ago: the importance of scientific enquiry, democracy, empathy, the role of art in healing and the significance of communities in building healthy environments for people to live in. The keynote speakers represent a diverse group of professionals from science, design, city planning and more, while the delegates, like last year, will be a mix of designers, architects, artists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and design students, among others.

“We think that there’s a momentum, a space for a Nordic event of this caliber. A gathering of different people from different disciplines to yet again put focus on the empathy and talk about the latest inspirations, whether they be within democracy, art, cinema, architecture or even time travel. In that sense it’s also connected to the Nordic system; everybody will be taken care of, allowed in and accepted”, says Kullberg.


More than just a building, Paimio Sanatorium has become seen as a world-renowned masterpiece of modern architecture. Subscribe our Newsletter and be first to learn more about Paimio Sanatorium’s events and exhibitions.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.