Alvar Aalto

When I personally have to solve some architectural problem, I am constantly - almost without exception, indeed - faced with an obstacle difficult to surmount, a kind of “three in the morning feeling”. The reason seems to be the complicated, heavy burden represented by the fact that architectural planning operates with innumerable elements which often conflict. Social, human, economic and technical demands combined with the psychological questions affecting both the individual and the group, together with the movements of human masses and individuals, and internal frictions - all these form a complex tangle which cannot be unraveled in a rational or mechanical way. The immense number of different demands and component problems constitute a barrier from behind which it is difficult for the architectural basic idea to emerge. I then proceed as follows - though not intentionally. I forget the entire mass of problems for a while, after the atmosphere of the job and the innumerable different requirements have sunk into my subconsciousness. I then move on to a method of working which is very much like abstract art. I just draw by instinct, not architectural syntheses, but what are sometimes childlike compositions, and in this way, on this abstract basis, the main idea gradually takes shape, a kind of universal substance which helps me bring the innumerable contradictory component problems into harmony.

The Trout and the Stream
Article by Alvar Aalto