I Haven’t been writing for a few week because we have a new arrival called Anna who has been keeping us busy but happy. She arrived on the 26th June and both her and Kirsi are doing really well. Eer and now I’m back at work and back online! I shall start to put a few photos out on flickr for those who are interested.
Textile and Architecture can make good bedfellows. The work of SARC Architects has recently incorporated patterned designs by the textile artist Outi Martikainen adding an extra depth to their walls. The Kone headqurters for example has three different glass print designs which combine to give a depth and artistry to the side wall double skinned elevations, which would otherwise be quite plain. In the Oulu Faculty of Medical Science heat formed polyester felt acoutic panels have been designed by her to great effect. Hopefully Architects and Artists can collaborate more in this kind of way incorporating some Art into the Architecture rather than say just dedicating a sculpture in the parking lot outside.
Buildings Outi has worked on with SARC;
Kone HQ in Espoo, Faculty of Medical Science in Oulu, Sonera in Vallila, Offices in Pasila, Expoo2000 Hanover.
See also (fabric concrete)
An interesting postcard came through our door a few weeks ago. It has a link to a website on it explaining the details (in Finnish only I’m afraid). It comes from a number of villages in Finland, and is an appeal to ex-members of those villages to relocate back there, and it seems to be part of a campaign to get families to move back to those villages, in short a counter-urbanisation strategy. My wife comes from Hartola which explains why we got one, and it seems they are backing up their PR with heavily discounted land prices to encourage people to buy and build there. It is interesting that Finland urbanised later than most European countries but very quickly after WWII and that now the paper industry (production at least) seems to be on the wain here that these villages want or need to try and keep their populations, and fight the general trend of urbanisation. Finnish people, you can’t help but notice also have a love affair with nature, or at least the KesÃ¤moki or summer cottage, where the Finnish family can escape from the city for the summer and get back in touch with their country roots. This paper is really interesting insight into the issues for Finland for their urbanisation, ‘the great move’ in the fifties and sixties where the baby boom generation was born in the country but now mostly lives in the cities. The postcard is an interesting strategy to challenge the slow decline of the countryside outside of the KesÃ¤moki lifestyle.
Also see Stats in Finland.
As an Architect you win some and you lose some, I took part with my office in a design competition for Aviapolis Tower which we lost. Davidsson won, and the winning entry image is top left. Its an interesting development mainly because of its height. At about 100 metres high it puts this project at a similar height to the tallest buildings in Finland, they just don’t build tall here. But the last project I worked on while in the UK has just won a couple of awards at the Scottish Design Awards 2006 , The Royal Bank of Scotland World Headquarters by Michael Laird Architects which I worked on for almost three years (see earlier post) Oh and I had to draw that helical stair so I hope you like it. Image is top right.
Also see rbs gogarburn_hq.kmz
Some terrible news that Porvoo Cathedral had a major fire at the weekend (via). It was a beautiful 13th Century part stone part timber Cathedral. So a couple of fires in major Finnish buildings within the space of a couple of weeks, accident or deliberate, its pretty suspicious? But while Makasiinit was due for demolition the next day anyway, the Porvoo fire is a real loss to the architectural heritage of Finland. Hopefully they can restore it to its former glory. It makes me doubly crazy that I’ve been in Finland almost two years now but never got round to visiting Porvoo yet which is a really beautiful old town, bah!
Updated: with Helsingin sanomat article & photo (ItÃ¤-uudenmaan pelastuslaitos) It doesn’t sound as bad as I first thought.
Architectural design now more than ever is a shared production with the Chief Architect perhaps if he or she is lucky leading the team, but we all want to believe in the Starchitect as Renaissance genius, while the truth is perhaps more mundane the effect of brand building and name dropping by developers and journalists. David Galbraith has an interesting take on this phenomenon. While many Architects working today actively pursue a strong style or self branding programme only a few admit to the fact, check out FAT architectures ironic (but how much, take a look at their work?) page on how to become a famous architect. Branding architecture for its own sake seems an inherently dangerous thing to do as Architecture and Fashion don’t work to the same time lines or cultural fault lines. I would say the strongest brands in Architecture are those names from the past whose portfolio is still traded on today, usually their furniture and product design, their architectural work is subsumed bythe brand styling of a piece of glassware or chair. Aalto is the perfect example of a world famous architect having been turned into a tradeable brand just think of the savoy vase.
Yes Lordi won Eurovision, but what will happen next year in Helsinki, are we going to see a floodgate of kiss impersonators entering the competition or even more diverse and downright weird offerings, I hope it gets weirder as it can’t really get worse can it? The Finnish English language blogs I read covered it well, Georg blogged it live, Darren links to Silvia surely the highlight, and phils got the winning picture!
Oh and we all complain about those voting patterns I mean Russia’s Rubbish got 10′s and 12′s from virtually every
country worried about its gas supply friendly neighbour! Some boffin has called this the Gravity Model, yes it’s a real scientific theory and has been written up with reference to Eurovision. Itresembles international trading patterns apparently.
Louis Kahn was a hero of mine while I was studying, I felt he injected modernism with a substance and a dream of immortality if not the reality. So I bought the DVD of my architect by Louis Kahn’s son recently. It really is a fantastic film, and somewhat beautiful. The buildings at first perhaps not fully realised and the Architect Louis Kahn shown walking towards or away from the camera also seems hard to understand, how could he live like he did in simultaneous parallel lives that rarely crossed? But as the film goes on both the Architecture and the man come through in a different perspective, and you come to understand both more profoundly, although the man Louis Kahn seems at the end of the film still to be lurking in the background. Is it a film for non Architects, yes definitely, but those who don’t know the subject of the film already will have to rely more on the human story of a famous Architect who has ‘secret’ families.Nathaniel Kahn’s film deals in subjects that are universal but criminally neglected in film often. How does a man’s work and life relate to each other? How is emotion and empathy resolved in concrete form? Film and Architecture have something in common, in the use of light and materialisation of ideas. Nathaniels film is a thing of rare beauty like the works of his father.
Did you know that the biggest charity in the world is dedicated to ‘innovation in the field of Architectural and Interior design.’ At some $36 Billion its bigger than the Gates Foundation which is a paltry $27 billion by comparison. But while the Gates Foundation goes around giving out money to fight disease and deprivation around the world, the Stichting Anka Foundation appears to do, well…… nothing at all. Ingvar Kamprad one of the worlds richest men set up the Foundation years ago and it basically owns Ikea. The Foundation as shown by The Economist doesn’t follow its founding brief at all but is simultaneously a way of insuring the Ikea group can never be taken over and perhaps also the biggest tax dodge in the world. This is all well and good but it seems to me that it is all very well being frugal but there is alot of good that this money could be doing while it may basically be held in limbo forever. As an Architect I really have alot of time for Ikea. I really like their design principals and some of their philosophy, you know what you get with them and they provide accessibility to design for everyone which is I think unique and the key reason why they are so successful, but look a little below the surface into the heart of the company and it starts to look, well, sometimes a little creepy.
Let one building be like another. We won’t be published in Deutsche
Kunst und Dekoration and we won’t be made professors of applied art,
but we will have served ourselves, our times, our nation and mankind to
the best of our ability. (via) -Adolf Loos
Something about this quote really makes sense, sometimes good design means not being noticed.
Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo.
I found this a hard book to review, as it has elements I both love and hate. It is an updating or retelling of the Finnish Troll legends, where a troll enters the life of a young gay photographer in Helsinki. The troll comes from a past/parallel Finland of uncivilised pure nature and we can read the troll as the beast in us or the possibility of nature someday reclaiming us!
I like are the structure which is both new and ambitious. Chapter headings are the names of the characters narrating first person, and the narration is broken up by other elements such as faux newspaper reports and poems and website references etc. This element of the book is its most successful and I think its quite a direct and interesting way to tell a story and include some background information, legend and suspense.
Unfortunately the excepts are the highlight and the telling and style of the main story I find quite weak and light compared to the subject matter. There is no sense of gathering doom or tension, just some events strung together. The main story doesn’t match up to the ambition of the subtext. It could have been alot better and the feeling I was left with was a missed chance.
Jugendsali has an exhibition running till currently showing off the talents of four architectural photographers. Jens Lindhe from Denmark, Jiri Havran from Norway, Ã…ke E:son Lindman from Sweden and Jussi Tiainen from Finland. I particularly liked how Jens Lindhe subtly broke the mould of most architectural photography, it was more informal and the pictures were printed three on a sheet with different views of the same building, including people and with depth of focus that most architectural photography eschews. Pity his website doesn’t have more examples of this refreshing approach to architectural photography.
I saw the Macintosh Lecture by Andrew Macmillan former head of the Glasgow School of Art yesterday, who made a good case for Rennie Macintosh being one of the instigators of many of the elements of the modern movement. His architecture is individualistic, fascinating and at times wonderful, however I think he represents the end of more things than the start of them. Corbusiers Machines for Living would soon sweep away most of Macintoshs aesthetics. Murray Grigors film on Macintosh was then shown. I also met Georg for the first time, we are now both about to start reading some Finnish Literature, Georg in German and me in English translation, how much of the original flavour of these books will we loose? We really need a native Finnish speaker to step up and join in too.
I keep meaning to start my own, but in the meantime the Guardian compiled a list which seems pretty good with good shortcuts too. Personally I’m still waiting for an english language biography of Kekkonen which would have some great stories as well as profile a very interesting and key cold war politician.
Update: Georg blogged this entry and following a short conversation we are trying to do some joint reading, I’ve copied his starting list below which I pretty much agree with. Would anyone else like to give it a go?
* Johanna Sinisalo – Not Before Sundown
* Mikael Niemi – Popular Music from Vittula
* Leena Krohn – Tainaron, Dona Quixote and Other Writings
* Mikko Rimminen – Pussikaljaromaani
Alain de Botton
has a new book coming out very soon called the Architecture of Happiness also there are some video clips from the Documentary he made based on the book called The Perfect Home. Its not often that a major mainstream writer who is not an Architect devotes a book to the subject , he’s also an old favourite of mine, so I am looking forward a great deal to reading this.The Guardian has a
preview and the book is out on the 20th April. The title of the book is intriguing, how are good Architecture and Happiness related anyway?
update(21.04.06)- It came out yesterday and the first (not so good) review is out today.