This week we are already pushing to finish our bronze-cast models of Nolli's map of Helsinki. This process becomes a mind-bending method of how to extract the most detail out of the model while keeping to a scale in the range of between 1:1000 and 1:2500. None of the projects will be bigger than a few centimeters in each direction - and lucky me, I drew the Velodrome by Hilding Eklund. Because of the double-curve form as well as the rotating loft through the sections of the track I sought help through CNC and 3D printing, with some handiwork at the end to smooth out any mistakes.
Our big event in the last week was, however, another intimate symposium lecture by architect and theorist Keller Easterling from Manhattan as part of the ongoing "1000 Islands" talks. Keller was invited to speak to students at Aalto University's School of Architecture, and then later came to NOW Office for a smaller discussion with the Aalto-Carleton Joint Studies students and a scattering of local design talent. Keller has/is/continues to conduct extensive research on the implications of certain national harbours as 'micro-nations' of economic sources that exist both within and outside a larger nation's boarders, and the direction they are taking in terms of becoming a new quasi-Levitown.
In the rush of experiencing a new city and getting started in a new semester in a new country, we have tried to make a few excursions to other major landmarks and urban environments. Last weekend a group of us made the trip to Oslo to see the Norwegian cosmopolitan culture. Of course the highlight was the opera house, for which we scrounged together enough cash to buy tickets to see the current opera "Alcina". It seems like each showing is a high-end event, with most attendees dressed to the nine's - our jeans and t-shirts stuck out just a tad. But such is the event, with the open common areas as important as the theatre itself - and what magnificent spaces they are. The interior acoustics allowed for crystal sound even to those of us in the back rows of the top balcony - this was the highlight of the trip.
For myself, having studied much of Sverre Fehn's work in my undergraduate studies, the goal was to see one of his built projects - not an easy task considering most (...all?) of his masterworks appear to be far removed from Oslo itself. Fortunately it was very accessible to get to his addition at the National Museum of Architecture - not so fortunately, pictures are strictly forbidden of the interior.
It has become very apparent that there is a common ethos within the attitudes of Scandinavian architecture that transcends boarders between the various countries. This attitude is a subtlety in approaching the connection between landscape and architecture, a oneness with our environments both built and natural, and a maintaining respect for that which exists around us. Our semester began in mid-January, but I travelled for the 3 weeks leading up to that and have now stopped in all of the Nordic countries - I am pleasantly surprised to see that they carry overarching themes in design between all of them, yet each have their own elements of a genius loci to give identity within their surroundings.
An on-going documentation of the work happening in Carleton University's semester-long work for the Directed Studio Abroad to Helsinki, Finland in the joint studies program with Aalto University. January-April 2014.