Early-Mid-Century Modern

Designing new health care facilities finds its exemplar in an old tuberculosis hospital.

Without a cure for TB, doctors prescribed bed rest, clean air, and sunshine. So, the 87-year-old Paimio Sanatorium in Finland was designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto to be “an instrument for healing.” 

The sunny hospital features bright yellow stairs, energizing teal hallways, and a sundeck with ergonomic chairs and pine forest views. Everything is also practical: Surfaces are easy to clean, and low stairs encourage light exercise. 

“Aalto created a healing environment addressing each patient’s psychological and social needs,” says architect Diana Anderson. “[He] was ahead of his time.”


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