Friday, December 23, 2011

A Scientific AutobiographyA Scientific Autobiography by Aldo Rossi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is less of an autobiography and more a collection of very poetic musings on architecture, written by this iconic Italian architect. I read this for my first semester studio class, but I found myself constantly reminded of why I was an English major in college: so many sentences that are beautiful not for what they describe but for what they themselves are . . . "the stasis of those timeless miracles, to tables set for eternity, drinks never consumed, things which are only themselves."

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Scandinavian Odyssey, Part 6 (final)

Felt pins in a Finnish
design shop
After arriving in Helsinki and checking in at our possibly-too-luxurious Hotel Kamp, on the Esplanade, we drove our rental car over to the train station to drop it off with the agency.
This started our tour of die Jugendstil, at Eliel Saarinen's train station.  After poking around that building for a while, we slowly made our way back toward the hotel, stopping in at a few stores, then the outdoor market and the Saluhall (indoor food market), which we would frequent for the rest of the visit.
Helsinki Train Station.
            Our second day in Helsinki led us a little farther away from the center of town.  We signed up for a 3 hour "design tour" of the city, which brought us to a few spots nearby, like the Senate Square where the Helsinki Cathedral is, and some spots farther away, like the Temppeliaukio Church, which was one of my favorite stops on the tour.
copper ceiling at the Temppeliaukio Church
The church is excavated from the rock that covers the site.  It has very little ornament, mainly just a copper ceiling, which changes color some with the light.  The effect of the church is very calming, which is pretty impressive considering we were in there with a couple hundred other tourists, all taking photos at the same time.
The old Arabia Factory
            Our tour also brought us to the Arabia district, named after the dish design company, which also has a lot of new apartment complexes - each building suited toward the needs of a different demographic.  It was an incredibly hot day, but we got off the bus and walked around the apartment buildings, then into the old factory which has been converted into an indoor outlet shopping mall, for the Finnish design companies.  Mom and I finally got to buy some fun Fiskars scissors, which we had been eyeing throughout the trip.
Ice cream for dessert at the
Fazer cafe
            After the tour was over, we walked a few blocks south of our hotel to the Museum of Finnish Architecture, which had an interesting exhibit on Finnish schoolbuildings, and how their design has changed throughout the years.  If I had known then that I would be designing an elementary school for my first semester studio, I may have paid better attention!  Unfortunately, it was too hot in that building to concentrate on much of anything.  We also went to the Design Museum, which had a big exhibit on Kaj Franck, in honor of his 100th birthday.  Before making it back to our hotel, we stopped in at Stockmann's department store for a few knick-knacks and a great big salad for dinner at their cafeteria, then we had an ice cream sundae at the Fazer cafe, which was (unfortunately) right across the street from our hotel.
Uspenski Cathedral
            The next day, we checked out the Uspenski Cathedral, up on the hill on the eastern side of Helsinki.  Great views of the church and of the city.  We took a ferry out to Suomenlinna island, a fortress from the mid-18th century.  Again, the heat kept us from doing too much, but we did spend some time at the Ehrensvard Musuem, which told us the history of the fortress.
Helsinki Cathedral
Back on the mainland, we walked up the 53 steps to the Helsinki Cathedral, only to find out we were going in the side entrance, to see the very simple and calming interior.  That night, we had dinner at the Sea Horse restaurant, which was a recommendation from Mom's neighbor.  I finally had herring, and found it to be really not that bad!
the interior at the Cafe Jugend
            On our final full day in Helsinki, we had breakfast at the Cafe Jugend.  The interior of the building was designed by Lars Sonck, covered in Egyptian/Aztec-ian type moldings on the columns, etc., and great murals on the walls.  We spent quite a while checking out the whole place.
            Held up by the rain, we slowly made our way out to the flea market on the western side of the city, where we saw a lot of familiar dishware, and I got to sit in a red/blue chair, authenticity undetermined.
The National Museum of Finland,
with a watch-bear out front
             We poked around the outside of Finlandia Hall - the only guided tour that they give each week had been a day earlier, before we tried to sign up for it - then checked out the National Museum of Finland, then the Museum of Contemporary Art.  We had an early dinner of reindeer meat at the Lassipalatsi (1930's landmark glass palace), then back to the hotel to pack.
            It was a wonderful trip, one which I will continue to enjoy for quite a while, every time I wear a sweater or scarf that I bought, or look at the Dala horses I got in Sweden, etc.  I managed to keep a journal throughout the trip that I wrote in every night, without which this kind of itemized account would not have been possible.  And of course, I took many pictures, which I believe will inspire me throughout school and beyond.  What a great way to spend my last few weeks before starting my architecture program.
a view of Greenland, on our flight home

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A quick post on a school night.

Well, I've just about made it to the end of my first semester of architecture school at UIC.  Tomorrow is my final review for our semester-long project, which is culminating in the design of an elementary school for the fictional town (read: site model) of "Rossiville,"  the city my class has put together, inspired by the drawings of Aldo Rossi from his 1984 book, A Scientific Autobigraphy.
After I turn in one final paper on Tuesday, I will have some real, free time, and hopefully I will spend some of that time updating this blog here with some of the interesting things I've done or come across throughout the semester, including posting a few of my drawings etc.
In the meantime, I'm just going to post a few renderings of the school I've designed.
An exterior view of my school, which I call my Box School, in comparison with some other very non-box-ish schools I designed along the way.  Also, I liked to think of the roof as a box top being peeled up.  
Interior view - showing stairs and "bleacher" seating, as well as the undulating surfaces that we learned to build in Maya during the semester.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good review tomorrow, and I'm very thankful that I'll be getting some sleep tonight, as most of my friends in studio will be up into the wee hours.  17 weeks has flown by!