In Alvar Aalto's architecture wood had an important role, symbolically and as a material. Aalto brought out the biological characteristics of wood and its relationship with human beings and with nature in his architecture. Aalto was a master at combining Finnish vernacular building with the European tradition and metamorphosing into some other material as he went along. Concrete, glass, wood and brick were all equally worthy materials.
In Aalto's architecture, the role of wood is based above all on the ease with which it can be worked, its heat insulation properties and the fact that it is pleasant to the touch. Trees themselves as symbols of growth and sources of form of different kinds, and forests as spatial outlines, however, gave wood a mythical character. To Aalto, wood was adapted as an argument for human warmth and humanism when, to his mind, Modernism, the International Style, began to become too stereotyped and estranged from the idealism Aalto associated with it. With time, wood became for Aalto more and more a material that was used for cladding buildings and worked as a space divider, a material that was employed to soften acoustics and was used in details for places that people were going to touch.
It could be said that, on the one hand, wood acted as decoration in Aalto's buildings, but on the other, the variations of form in the wooden detailing show a synthesis of Aalto's architecture.