Intermediate 9 learns by travelling, thinks and designs through drawing (2D and 3D) and builds the future by reinventing the past. Having focused in the two preceding years on the methods and madness of Antoni Gaudí and James Stirling, this year we turned our attention northwards to modernism’s guv’nor of anti-modernism – Alvar Aalto. But before heading to Finland we spent some time in Blighty ‘surveying’ the work of Leslie Martin, Patrick Hodgkinson and Colin St John Wilson, a collective one of us would call Aalto’s British ‘copyists’, and the other, more tamely, as the English architects Aalto ‘inspired’.
We made our debut sortie to Säynätsalo (and Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Seinäjoki and Noormarkku), site of Aalto’s magisterial, but now largely redundant, town hall. This is where we sited our projects, and (like all good Scandinavian chefs) where we revelled in our foraging through the autumnal woods and forests that covered the hills of Muuratsalo. When we returned to the same site in late January it was both unrecognisable and mesmerising. Säynätsalo was encased by a metre-thick ice surface, and suddenly we could walk past ice fishermen, cross-country skiers and para-gliders to the Experimental House at Muuratsalo or his early church at Muurame. Still frozen to the bone, we then sought immediate warmth by plunging south to Ceramica Cumella in 20-degree Granollers. Here, just outside Barcelona, during a non-prototype-based workshop, our speculative projects moved from digital to physical space.
As in previous years, the range of all this invention is best captured in our end-of-year ‘family photo’. Taken this time in the AA Archives, we’ve interspersed a few of our inspirations (alongside Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones) as we seek to continue our contribution to the school’s long legacy of influential forms of drawing architecture. Along the way we also acquired a few fascinating facts about our student cohort. Whoever knew that some of them couldn’t ride a bicycle; or that others were incapable of drawing a piece of fruit; or that a number proved manifestly less fit than their aged tutors; or ultimately and shockingly, that a few of them had never before even heard of Aalto!
Special thanks to
Peter Blundell Jones
Carlos Villanueva Brandt
Efrén García Grinda
Theo Sarantoglou Lalis
Monia De Marchi
Cristina Díaz Moreno
José Luis Ruiz
Erez E Missri
(1953-2222) Ice suburb. A community over the ice thick layer covering Finland. The variable condition of the winter ice leads to an unpredictable architecture in an endless transformation. Ice is therefore understood as a quick and efficient material to combine different mobile autonomous components. During the warm season, since the ice layer is fragile and unstable, the community settles in a compact way; in colder periods, when ice is more stable, the settlement tends to a disperse fragmentation. During the intermediate estates, the whole ensemble reacts and evolves towards the new physical environment.
LAND FILL FOLKLORE or a AMAUROSIS FLUX
This project focuses on the visual effects created by the light conditions in the frozen Finish ice landscapes, the Moiré effect and on an architectural conversation between an old and a new ground plane.