It’s that time of year again. Open house helsinki 2009 with a few very notable buildings which are rarely open to the public like the German Embassy by Juha Leiviskä. Its part of Helsinki design week 4th to 13th September, which again shows why finnish design punches above it’s weight.
Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki have won the design competition for a new Finnish Embassy in Tokyo. The project is notable for the semi-opaque all glass facade which is patterned. In so much as it conveys an atmosphere or even an imagined landscape by a layering through the different glazing it could be a great project. Here is a link to the embassy page which annouced the winner, but it leaves a little questionmark as to when the project will be completed.
Gabion has an article on Saarinen’s London Embassy and how it is under possible threat (via). But the support is by no means unequivocal, and that’s par for the course in the UK especially where most Architectural critics still can’t seem quite to escape from the Pevsner monologue whispering to them in their heads.
It contrasts greatly with the gushing over Corbusier provoked recently by a big retrospective of his work in Liverpool. I don’t buy it. Corb was great but also greatly flawed, as David Byrne wrote really well about in his journal.
It’s not even that le Corb’s form of Cartesian logic in design was fundamentally formulaic but that it also misrepresented itself. Corbusiers image of modernism doesn’t match up to Saarinens enquiry from fundamentals that go into his buildings, which unlike Corb’s, unite technology and engineering into the Architetcure not merely subsuming them.
Le Corbs buildings in other words speak eloquently of an imagined machine-made rational future while being mostly hand built with traditional technology. While Saarinens buildings really did investigate and innovate with technology while conveying the aspirations of what was required and appropriate for the building.
Don’t get me wrong Le Corbs legacy can be picked over but his place as a great Architect is undeniable, its just I’d take Aalto over Corb, and Saarinen over Mies any day of the week……OK I feel much better now I got that off my chest, rant over.
Other Links – Yale’s Archive of drawings for the US Embassy. The photo above is from that Archive and is a set of alternative sketch’s made of the elevation.
update: only U.S. firms will be eligible to design the new U.S. embassy.
Estonia has just opened an embassy in second life, being the second country to do it officially behind Sweden. Interestingly Estonia’s official second life embassy is different from Swedens offering in a few subtle ways that seem to me to make it a more thoughtful offering. The Architecture is especially of interest to me, while Sweden plonked down a copy of their real life Embassy in America, Estonia have had a purpose designed building by Scope Cleaver. Aleister Kronos an Avatar in SL has visited it and posted some photos and I quite like it. Check out the Estonian Embassy blog. You can’t really call this building a simulacrum but I think it should be appreciated on its own terms in the context of Second Life, and its tempting to speculate as to whether the next real life Estonian Embassy somewhere in the world might borrow design elements from this one.
Image above by alkronos. (who has a great set of photos covering the building)