Although a country with few people and plenty of space, Finland’s capitol city Helsinki being located on a peninsula finds itself constantly constrained for space by the sea. Luckily the city sits above bedrock which is deep and which frequently punctures the ground. So Helsinki has increasingly used its bedrock to tunnel into and create an underground city. Now with over 400 documented underground facilities and 200 more planned, Subterranean Helsinki is probably one of the largest and most comprehensive underground city systems in the world for its size.
The Markthal in Rotterdam stands as a iconic building set in Rotterdam the city that has iconic buildings strewn across it. Trumpeted as a new kind of hybrid typology, apartment block and market hall together it’s actually one of the latest and more interesting attempts at the type.
So our office in Helsinki started working remotely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic around the week of March 16-19th (week 12). Most of us haven’t done this before and there are some things worth bearing in mind for remote working generally and in particular for Architects and designers. I decided to try to collect some tips for working from home for Architects.
After about twenty years out of Architecture School and never being in an office that was very receptive of remote working, in the space of a week most of us moved over to it. The Pandemic meant that people became increasingly worried about working in our open plan office and it wasn’t clear whether the government would in fact mandate office closures.
Either way by the end of that week we started preparing and were all able to work from home by the middle of the next week.
I have collated some tips and good advice along with my own insights after the first month of working from home.
My Introduction to Zaha Hadid
One of the first really exciting moments in my Architectural eduction was when I went to the Architecture Winter School of 1990 in Edinburgh around the New Year where lots of Architecture students from all over the UK had gathered to do workshops and hear lectures from the great and the good. I had only been an Architecture student for a couple of months and it was a formative experience.
A couple of things recently came up on my radar that coincided and that I thought I would write about.
Firstly was a list made by Patrick Collison called fast which is about projects which were made quickly enough to appear anomalous and impressive. This hyperlinked list is really nice and I have already spent some time clicking through and reading.
The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday
The book is meant as an introduction to Stoicism and to an idea that stoicism in the West has been around throughout history behind the scenes as a tool for those who wanted to use it. The book comes formatted thus with some collected anecdotes about famous and successful people down the ages who have employed stoicism either consciously or unselfconsciously.
Soft City by Jonathan Raban
Soft cities is like a city reader, a book about how cities work on our inner selves and how we live in them and Iain Sinclairs’ introduction hits all the right notes locating Rabans’ book within the London of the 70’s, and the literary traditions from which it springs.
The Tij observatory (2019) sits in the Haringvilet Dam, part of the Sceelhoek Nature reserve in The Netherlands which was opened in 2018 to help improve the biodiversity of the water and coastline there. Tij is Dutch for tide which is apt as the building sits just on the shore overlooking the water.
The reserve is a nesting area for Sandwich terns and the building is inspired by the shape of their eggs. You enter the building via a tunnel so as not to disturb the birds nesting by the shore.
The Ghost Map : The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
by Steven Johnson
Compare a bacteria with a human, with a city, with the planet. Weave in two personal stories and the clash of ideas and of the inherent messiness of progress, and you may get the outline of this book. The Ghost Map is at once a real map, but also a metaphor for progress, for navigation of the future using the past.
The scale at which this book is written jumps all the time and could have collapsed in on itself because it constantly pans and zooms through its subject matter, yet it always stays focused and gripping. The book’s main story are the events around an outbreak of Cholera in London in 1854 around Broad Street, Soho. Two very different people, John Snow and Henry Whitehead, became entangled in the outbreak and eventually through their efforts the battle against Cholera was won, mega cities became possible and the foundations for modern epidemiology were laid.
The Centre National d’Arts et de Culture George Pompidou or The Beauborg opened in 1977 designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers with Ove Arup Engineers. Located in the center of Paris within 1km of the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, it lies on the edge of the historic Marais quarter.
It Neighbours Les Halles one of the old Parisian indoor markets now demolished and replaced by the shopping center Forum des Halles itself partially demolished and rebuilt in 2018. Les Halles was previously one of the locations of the May ’68 uprisings. The authorities wanted to provide much needed cultural services and bring these as close to the people as possible. They also wanted to reinstitute a cultural relevance and importance for Paris in the fine arts that they felt had been lost to New York.
It was to embody the new pluralist cultural policies of the French state after Georges Pompidou became President. An Academic, he took over from General de Gaulle and took the project under his wing. It is a litmus test, therefore, for the way Architecture relates to culture as it is a building dedicated to bringing that culture to the people of Paris and it’s visitors.