Who knew Southern Californian skaters owed so much to Alvar Aalto?
Breaking free of the rectilinear lines of European Modernism and instead mimicking the natural contours of lakes and ponds, the undulating watering holes known as kidney-shaped pools came into vogue in the United States during the midcentury era—particularly in California. Read on to learn more about the origin of the distinctive shape, and how kidney-shaped pools went on to play a huge role in skateboarding culture.
Although the kidney-shaped pool grew in popularity during the 1950s, its origins can be traced to the work of Finnish Modernist architect
However, it wasn’t until 1948 that a pool with a similar configuration made its way to the United States with a landscape design by landscape architect Thomas Church. Church had been commissioned to design the landscape for a new house for the Donnell family in Sonoma, California. Church was a friend of Aalto’s and had been deeply influenced by the Finnish architect’s interest in biomorphic design. Church had perhaps even seen early sketches of the pool at Villa Mairea in the late 1930s during a trip to Finland.
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