We returned last Saturday from our incredible DIS study tour north through Scandinavia, stopping along the way for important works of humanist architecture. The next few posts will be of sketches and photos reviewing some of my experiences during the trip.
Massing diagram of Saynatsalo. Site Section and details of Muuratsalo, as well as plan reconfigurations of a previous 302 project.
I can’t offer much new insight on Aalto’s masterpiece in Saynatsalo. The council chamber especially is the subject of much praise. Aalto is lauded here for the integration into the immediate and larger social landscape of Finland. Loved almost universally by architects for the detailing and light qualities, I am still a little put off by his insistence of ‘total design’ in the design of a space for democracy. From what I understand ‘total design’ had come to mean ‘total control’ by the end of the modern movement. (But here it is okay, because the cold steel of industry is wrapped in the humanity of leather and twine?…The other extreme, an empty vessel to be filled with thoughts and ideas of the people, would not be okay either, so I don’t know really know what’s right or wrong here. The space feels good to be in, that is for sure.)
Muuratsalo, Aalto’s experimental summer house, is all about the surrounding landscape and the warmth of the interior courtyard (again, both heavily photographed and available with a quick google search). I was never particularly interested in ‘framing views’, as I had never experienced such dramatic views. The architecture here really is just about revealing something else, a ‘preparation for the experience of light’. I love the way the fire pit grounds the lake with the courtyard, in one axis of elemental power (fire, water, air, earth). Also of note is Aalto’s elevated drawing studio, a cozy space where light and creation meet.
The Petajavesi Old Church is a testament to northern timber construction. Today it acts as a three dimensional catalogue of fascinating wood joinery and assembly. A central plan with a beautiful Gothic vaulted interior…I was especially fascinated by the perfect triangle that emerged from the slanted roofs upon orbiting the building…a triangle that would appear above a circle inscribed in a square the following day in the Woodland Cemetery.