Friday, October 19, 2007

Helsinki: Suomenlinna

On occasion we will stray from coverage of specific buildings or architects to discuss special places. This post will do just that. This is a long slide show but worth the time is takes to watch it.

A short ride ferry ride from Senate Square in Helsinki is the Swedish sea fort of Suomenlinna. The sea fort occupies six islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish in 1748 to defend the city of Helsinki from Russian expansion. It didn't work. The Russians took control of Finland less than 60 years later. Today it is home to a select few, but enjoyed by all Fins as a wonderful island park. It is part military museum with old cannons and large guns pointed towards Russia, part shipyard...oh it is hard to describe, but really a special place. In the summer, many come for picnics here. All year round it is an escape for teens who want their own place away from the city. Some of the old military buildings have been restored and are used for special events. It seems that down every path there is a cool building or munitions storage cave, or a beached submarine.

The entire island seems to be a floating piece of granite. The large faces of, wind and snow polished rock seem to rise up right from the Bay of Finland. The vivid colors of the buildings, the eclectic architecture, the large cruise ships passing, it is really a surreal experience. The dark blue sky and the sun low on the horizon reminds you that you really are in a city that is on top of the world. Check out more about Suomenlinna on the official website HERE.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Buenos Aires: Proyecto CCB

We recently visited the office of Daniel Becker and Proyecto CCB. Daniel Becker was kind enough to take the time to show us around his office and tell us about his firms exciting recent competition award. The Centro Cultural del Bicentenario is the largest project in Latin America currently and will certainly thrust Proyecto CCB into the international architecture scene. The project is sponsored by Argentina to celebrate the bicentennial of the country. It is part urban renewal, part restoration of a historic landmark, and part adaptive reuse.

The most interesting part of the project for us as architecture students was the adaptive reuse of the historic Palacio del Correo Argentino. The historic main post building will be turned into a mixed use cultural center with a contemporary art museum, a chamber music hall, a symphony hall, an art gallery for traveling exhibitions, and a smaller concert venue on the roof of the building, and it goes on and on. All of that is going into one existing structure. The scale of the project is hard to digest. The project team has just completed submitting their first set of construction documents to the planning office. Construction should start early next year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Helsinki: Tapiola Swimming Hall

Construction Year: 1965 (restored and extended 2006)

Architect: Aarne Ervi (Extension by Arkkitehtitoimisto Nurmela, Raimoranta, Tasa Oy)

We visited the Tapiola Swim Hall this past Spring while studying in Helsinki. Tapiola was pretty close to the Helsinki University of Technology, so we'd often head over there for dinner. The Tapiola Swimming Hall was originally designed as part of the master plan for Tapiola Garden City by Aarne Ervi. Early in this decade, after nearly 40 years of use, the hall was closed for restoration and extension. The architects chosen for the extension was the firm of Arkkitehtitoimisto Nurmela, Raimoranta, Tasa Oy. The main swimming hall was restored as closely to its original condition as possible. The extension added a gym and multi purpose pool. Unfortunately the extension which is interesting, was not easy to photograph. But please look HERE for better pictures.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Uruguay: Iglesia de Atlánantida

The highlight of our weekend trip to Uruguay was this building by the Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste. The Iglesia de Atlánantida is located about an hour to the North of Montevideo in a rural township. Township may actually be an overstatement. The area that surrounds the church is mostly farmland and the simple structures where the farmers live. Arriving upon it was quite impressive.

This structure was Dieste's first building. He never received payment for his services for this building. It was built in 1960 and has held up very well. He was trained as an engineer but his structures reveal that he was so much more. He built all over South America and in the 90s he built in a few buildings in Spain. He died in 2000 at the age of 83. You can see more about this building on a Spanish Language Blog HERE .

Friday, October 5, 2007

Greetings from South America

It is 7:30 on a Friday night in Buenos Aires. Having just finished reviewing a roof detail of my studio project with my building technology professor, I'm ready for a nice Argentinian steak for dinner. It will be another few hours before the restaurants open, so I've decided to start a Blog.

In exactly 12 hours I'm leaving on a boat with 18 other architecture students for Uruguay. We're going to visit some buildings under construction and a nude beach. This isn't an atypical weekend. Since January I've been traveling the world in pursuit of an education. I spent my Spring semester in Helsinki, Finland and as I already mentioned am currently in BA.

I am a graduate student at Washington University in Saint Louis at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. I've studied in much of Europe, North America, South America and before I'm done Africa as well. This blog will tell stories. Stories of my travels and my education.