Finland considers itself a “younger” nation. It solely emancipated itself from centuries of Swedish and Russian rule in 1917, and for a lot of the twentieth century, the nation’s efforts in nation-building and expressing its nationwide id have been palpable by way of its arts, tradition, structure and urbanity.
Helsinki Central Railway Station by Eliel Saarinen was accomplished simply two years after Finland declared independence. Its monolithic granite construction and vivid copper roofs epitomize Finnish materiality. Commissioned in 1904 by way of a design competitors, the station was set towards a backdrop of Finnish nationalism and opposition to Russian rule among the many nation’s cultural circles. Work protesting restrictions on autonomy had been standard, and Sibelius’s rousing tone poem “Finlandia” was composed so as to add voice to the nationwide rebellion.
Pink granite could be discovered in every single place throughout Helsinki, from boulders to cobblestoned streets to buildings. They name it “helsingite” right here as a result of it’s distinctive. Copper too is considerable, due to the Finnish mining trade, as is the spruce that fills the forests surrounding town.
“I believe that’s actually clear in Helsinki, they usually have a very robust materials id. It’s very textural and really grounded within the supplies they’ve,” noticed Bradley Kerr, one in all 5 winners of the Australian Institute of Architects’ Dulux Examine Tour.
“The strongest identifier in Helsinki on the entire structure was the consistency of the very textured crimson granite and copper, and the way in which that they use these supplies in so many alternative methods on buildings during the last 100 years simply tells a very nice story of that place.”
Ellen Buttrose added, “We didn’t see any plasterboard, we didn’t see any composite supplies – we noticed supplies that had been very particular to this place, and I believe that has naturally generated a specific language. And it’s been utilized in so many alternative methods.”
Submit-war constructing in Helsinki has additionally accelerated a definite really feel to town. Sarah Lebner remarked that “the intervals of austerity [post-war] and needing to be frugal [have] taught the Finnish tips on how to use sample, repetition and format of actually easy supplies very nicely, which has seeded a part of their design tradition.”
“You see a whole lot of brick, but it surely’s typically a unique bond to plain, so it’s the identical materials however used in a different way,” Lebner stated.
“There’s a whole lot of nationwide satisfaction in the way in which they’ve developed id by way of public buildings,” Tiffany Liew added.
The group’s Helsinki tour information, Marianna Heikinheimo, estimated that roughly 60 % of architects’ work comes from the general public sector, nearly all of which is awarded by way of design competitions. Museums, galleries, live performance halls and public libraries have all been procured by way of design competitors.
In a high-tax, progressive nation equivalent to Finland, public infrastructure on the general public purse is to be anticipated. Nonetheless, “the quantity of funding from the general public coverage aspect to the purpose of maximum debt is kind of spectacular [compared with] a parallel timescale of the previous 100 years in Australian public infrastructure and neighborhood areas,” Liew stated.
The €100 million Helsinki Central Library Oodi, designed by ALA Structure, was commissioned to have a good time the centenary of Finnish independence. Dealing with the Finnish parliament and a public sq., the library occupies an essential place in Helsinki’s cultural-political precinct.
Once more, a contest was held in in 2012, and from greater than 500 entries, ALA Architects was chosen because the winner. The mission has been celebrated everywhere in the world and attracts in thousands and thousands of holiday makers a 12 months.
It reveals that “there’s an actual dedication to the supply of the element,” stated Edwina Brisbane. “It’s not simply should you win the competitors, it’s important to present a whole lot of element. The mission will get constructed, but it surely additionally will get delivered with the quantity of element that was supposed within the first place.”
The legacy of Aalto looms giant over town, not solely within the buildings dotted throughout town but additionally within the zeitgeist of latest practise. “My professor in structure all the time stated Finland is an out of doors museum for modernism,” stated Kristiina Kuusiluoma, CEO of Collaboratorio, which the group visited on the tour. She additionally stated the Finnish are courageous and prefer to experiment with new issues.
Collaboratorio is taking the spirit of bravery and experimentation even additional, growing its personal supplies equivalent to a concrete various made from compressed clay (sourced from constructing website excavations) and aggregates that come from marble discarded in the course of the refurbishment of Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Corridor. The truth is, the group was most in awe of the Collaboratorio’s dedication to materials exploration.
“I believe there’s a brand new wave taking place. We’ve seen a number of practices who’re shifting away from the hyper-rational,” stated Buttrose. “Aalto has began to offer small gestures of shifting away from that, and it’s virtually like the present modern architects really feel like they’re taking that to the subsequent stage once more however utilizing the identical values of sunshine, house and air in a brand new articulations.”
Linda Cheng is travelling with the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2023 Dulux Examine Tour. Observe alongside on social media and the Institute’s weblog.