Talking about healthcare environments in class the other day really got me thinking. One point that was stressed during the presentation was the importance of natural light and views in patients’ rooms. I knew that I had studied a project that embraced these ideas from a few decades ago, but I did not realize the project I kept referring to was actually built in the early 1930′s! Finland has always been revered as the design capitol of the world, Helsinki in particular. Many of you may have heard of the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto as well. Aalto was always pushing the envelope and truly established Finland in the world of innovative designs. Aalto designed the Paimio Sanitorium and the project was completed in 1933. This building was designed for patients with Tuberculosis as a place for treatment and recovery. So why is this building so important? Alvar Aalto incorporated decks on every level of the building so that the patients could get direct exposure to sunlight. Aalto also positioned the building so that the broadest side, that housed the patients’ rooms, got the most consistent sunlight during the day. This allowed for all of the patients to get exposure to the sun and also allowed the patients to enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding forest. Not only did he provide this outdoor healing area, but he also designed a lounge chair specifically for this project. This chair is one of Aalto’s most iconic pieces and is known as the Paimio Chair. This famous chair was designed for optimal comfort, it embraced the laws of ergonomics, and the reclining of the chair back allowed the patients to get ample amounts of sunlight. If this innovation in the healthcare field was not enough, Aalto also designed and patented a splash-free sink. This allowed patients, nurses, visitors, and staff to wash their hands without splashing water that may carry a strain of the disease. It is amazing to me that these ideas were created in the 1930′s yet are just catching on in the healthcare design field in the past few years. This revelation that I had about Aalto and his Paimio Sanitorium design only makes me respect Aalto himself, his innovation, and his ingenuity even more.