With Love to Alvar and Aino

Minsk, Belarus
Radical Passive
Liza Kulenenok

The inspiration for With Love to Alvar and Aino is right there in the name. The works of Alvar and Aino Aalto provided a starting point for the design of new apartment intended for a young couple. The architects, Radical Passive, focused the dwelling style on light, warmth, and timelessness, all features which Alvar and Aino Aalto are known for in their works.

As opposed to new construction, the apartment interior was severely limited by the constraints of the existing building architecture, which is located in a new suburb on the outskirts of Minsk. The renovation included opening up the kitchen and enlarging the bathroom. Other than these two areas, Radical Passive focused on bringing in new colours, materials, and furnishings to update the space. White was chosen as the primary wall colour, a classic choice but one which serves an extra function here: to bring light into a home where the exterior openings are limited. The secondary colour used throughout is that of the light oak veneer, used on furnishings, cabinetry, and wall panels. This material choice is another nod to the Aaltos, whose Finnish designs often featured this wood.

Just as the work of the Aaltos extended from architecture to furniture to home accessories, so does the design of the dwelling that bears their names. Radical Passive was not content with just designing the apartment interior. Nearly all of the furnishings were designed especially for the apartment, and in some rooms the furniture acts as a replacement for the architecture, defining the spaces where the existing walls could not be modified. The rest of the items in the home are carefully curated by the archietcts, and many of the pieces were made by local craftsmen.

Radical Passive is a multidisciplinary design firm formed in 2019. Led by architects Galina Mikchailova, Lizaveta Shylichava, and Natasha Zaeva, their work focuses on new architecture, renovation, interiors, and furniture design. Their firm name references one of the defining principles of their practice. Per the architects:

Our works are free to speak their own language, without excess meaning but radically aimed at evoking feelings.

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