When he was a second-year student of architecture in the early 1960s, Michael Driver went to Finland and discovered the work of Alvar Aalto. 'For a lot of people, it's the first influences that are the strongest, 'he says. 'I'd been raised on the mainstream works of the Modern Movement, especially on Corb and concrete. Corb was received wisdom, Aalto was the alternative.
Aalto's use of brickwork came as a refreshing change and made a lasting impression.'
Driver was so enthused that he went back to Finland for a second summer. 'You could see Aalto's whole range by travelling round the country. But for me the high point must be the town hall at Saynatsalo (see picture), with its raised courtyard and breathtaking spaces.' The College of Education at Jyvaskyla also stuck in his mind - 'and there was the thrill of visiting the Otaniemi Polytechnic Library which was still under construction, 'he says.
'Houses were traditionally built in timber and had an average life of 70 years before being destroyed by fire. The idea of more permanent structures was quite new. Jyvaskyla, a country town, was designed on a strict grid.When I was there, you could see the different ages of the various timber buildings.Aalto provided a contrast.'
The wheel seems to have come full circle for Driver, bringing him back to bricks and brickwork with his new job as senior architect at the Brick Development Association. And he is certainly enjoying that.