Northern Grace: The contribution of Alvar Aalto to the Scottish Modernist Ecclesiastical Designs of Isi Metzstein and Andy McMillan

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper will demonstrate the influence of Alvar Aalto in the context of the work of Scottish post war modernist architects Andy McMillan and Isi Metzstein (of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia). It has been stated that the works of McMillan and Metzstein are as important to Scotland as Alvar Aalto’s work is to Finland. However to date no in-depth study has investigated and demonstrated the design connection between them. This paper will put into context that influence. It will examine how some of the key ecclesiastical buildings they designed in Scotland in the 1960’s reflect Aalto’s ecclesiastical work, both in terms of materiality, form and setting. Comparing buildings in Seinajoki, Lhati and Imatra with those in Glenrothes, Glasgow and East Kilbride, the paper will investigate key elements of site, exterior and interior. Through analysis of primary site investigations, photographs and archive information from both countries it will demonstrate through images and reflections the links between them. It will argue that the influence of Aalto is evident in these buildings, and that he has contributed to the evolving ideologies of Scottish Modernism. It will also demonstrate how the quality of their design and construction has contributed to the continued use of these buildings, ensuring their ongoing importance in their communities. This work form part of the Scotianavian Research Project which investigates links between Scandinavian and Scottish Architects in relation to connections with their design paradigms, reviewing buildings and recording previously unreferenced influences. It aims to define and record important architectural links between these countries that have previously been overlooked or not investigated in any depth. 
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
Event(Ever)green Alvar Aalto: 4th Alvar Aalto Researchers' Network Seminar - Pori, Finland
Duration: 27 Aug 202028 Aug 2020


Seminar(Ever)green Alvar Aalto
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aalto
  • Churches
  • Modernist Architecture


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  • Alvar Aalto Foundation

    Rachel Simmonds (Visiting researcher)

    1 Mar 202031 Mar 2020

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesResearch and Teaching at External Organisation

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