This weekend we traveled north to the arctic circle and the city of Rovaniemi. The town planning was done by Alvar Aalto after the city was burned by the Germans on retreat from the Russian forces in WWII. Our instructor, architect Matti Rautiola, said that when he was a child every stone that was turned over would have a bullet, gun, or bone underneath it. Some stunning pieces of architecture were lost in this city destruction, including P.E. Blomstedt's Pohjanhovi Hotel (see its incredible fireplace in this image: http://yle.fi/teema/sininenlaulu/kuvat/SL_iso_Pohjanhovi_sis_208133.jpg)
We were taken to:
Rovaniemi Town Hall - Alvar Aalto
Rovaniemi City Library - Alvar Aalto
Korudi Music Hall and Art Museum - Juhani Pallasmaa
The Design Week Opening
Pilke Forest Center - Teemu Palo
Arcticum Museum - Juhani Pallasmaa
Paivi Tahkokallio's office
Tapiola Housing Area - Alvar Aalto
Villa Pauliina - ARRAK Architects
Arctic Snow Hotel
Brian will be posting photos and details of our whirlwind of experiences later today, but I wanted to post specifically about the main architectural understanding I gained from this weekend.
The importance of human scale and the human figure in architecture has not been overlooked in our education so far -- but truly understanding what that means and how to work in harmony with the concept is surely a lifelong endeavor. What is amazing about Alvar Aalto's work is that you always feel the presence of the human scale in it. When you want to look around a corner, you can. When it is appropriate to feel cozy, such as a reading area in a library, you do.
We are two MArch students from Washington University St Louis who are traveling for a semester abroad to Helsinki, the arctic circle, and Baltic region. Helsinki is currently the 2012 design capital and we are getting to participate in extensive design related seminars and events that we wish to blog about. We are interested in using this blog to share/explore ideas and experiences about design, art, architecture and culture as we experience it.