As promised, here are some photos of our experiences in Rovaniemi this weekend. The town sits at the confluence of the Kemijoki and Ounasjoki rivers, about 11km south of the Arctic Circle. Despite the "deep cold" which frequents the area, the section of river by the town almost never freezes due to a strong current. This is one of the reasons that the town is where it is.
Two things amazed me about what we saw this weekend : The deftness with which Finnish architects have been able to manipulate light, and the tactile nature of their work. While all architecture is obsessed with light, the Nordic countries have a different relation to light than those who dwell closer to the equator. Light in the North is a coveted resource with a constantly changing character, and the goal is almost never to screen light from the interior.
The images above - Alvar Aalto's Rovaniemi City Hall and a private residence by ARRAK architects are beautiful examples of weaving light into a structural strategy. Both examples almost pull light into the far corners of the building, which is critical to the sensory experience of the building.
Aalto's Rovaniemi Library is a great example of a designers' sensory engagement with the buildings' inhabitant. In addition to light, Aalto's attention to the places where the user physically touches the building - handles, railings, stairs - is something we could all take a cue from. These details demonstrate the understanding that communication happens not on an abstract drawing plane, but in the realm of the senses.
The above image from Teemu Palko's Pilke Science center is an example of the innovative approach to materiality that is currently being explored in Finnish architecture. While this building is an example of the expanding role of wood in the structure of large buildings, there are several instances of an innnovative use of the material at the level of the user. In this case, wedge-shaped pieces applied to the wall and ceiling allow for an undulating curve between the two elements.
Tomorrow we visit several Aalto projects around Helsinki, including his home and studio! More posts to follow..
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.