Tag Archives: OH!

Athens: The Way I Remember It…

I should start by saying at this point, all of this is just a distant memory. Immediately after braving the bitter, dark winter in Helsinki for a week, I journeyed to Athens, Greece where I met the rest of my family. The photos taken help jog specific memories of the trip, so this post will serve as a bank for memories saved for about 2 years.

I remember arriving late in the afternoon and having my first impressions of the city at sunset.

athens_greece_sunsetpanorama

athens_greece_sunset

The city is surrounded by hills or mountains or something… This isn’t a memory, it is a description of the images above.

One thing I do vividly remmeber is the Acropolis perched on a hill in what seemed to be the center of the city. The Acropolis was literally unavoidable. It seemed no matter where we went, we ended up at the base of the hill.

athens_greece_acropolishillside

athens_greece_citybelowacropolis

athens_greece_acropolis01

athens_greece_acropolis02

athens_greece_acropolis_caryatids

This part is confusing for me, because I honestly cannot differentiate between the ruins… This city is full of remarkable sites of architectural and/or archeological significance and is a case study in historic preservation (good or bad)… 

Basically what I’m saying is everything has columns and ruins are everywhere.

athens_greece_columncrap

athens_greece_columns

I never really understood why architects insist that young architects must see the ancient masterpieces. What can be learned by seeing these things in person that is unlearnable via looking at pictures? (That is a somewhat rhetorical question, I’m sure you can always learn something. The bigger question is, is it actually worth the trip?)

In my mind, better and more significant than these areas of historical significance is the city itself. The memories that have stuck with me still are not of architecture of civilizations past, but of the places people live today. 

athens_greece_citystreets04

athens_greece_citystreets01

athens_greece_market athens_greece_citystreets03

athens_greece_citystreet07

athens_greece_citystreets05

athens_greece_citystreets06

athens_greece_coolrestaurant

As a whole, the city is rather picturesque.

Lots of stray cats…

athens_greece_straycat01

athens_greece_straycat02

But it seemed if you could get over how dirty a city can be, and how many stray animals there were, and how many restaurants had barker staff physically pulling you into their restaurants… I would go so far as to say Athens was rather Romantic.

athens_greece_romanticplace04

athens_greece_bay

athens_greece_romanticplace03

athens_greece_romanticplace02

athens_greece_romanticplace01

athens_greece_acropolissunset

I’m not sure if I enjoyed the trip as much as I remember enjoying the trip. But, it is a happy memory now. 

Does that even make sense? What the hell is going on here?

Eh… whatever. It isn’t like anyone reads this far through the posts anyway. Especially not when you post three times a year…

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Helsinki Files 11: All that Aalto.

…hello…?

…does this thing still work…?

Okay, listen. I have enough backlogged content to post on this blog that it is a crime. However, a much worse offense would be to ignore the remaining Helsinki photos I have. So rapid fire, here I go. This is all the Aalto I have left:

AllThatAalto_Cover

It has been well over a year since I took these photos, so you’ll have to forgive me for having very little to say. But here is what I will say:

  1. Pay attention to the difference between exterior and interior images. These photos were taken in the dead of winter, so you’ll see a cold blue tint to all exterior images. I made no effort to correct this in photoshop because I think it shows the Finnish attitude towards architecture extremely well. Because it is cold outside, it is extra warm inside. Warm materials. Warm colors. Warm life. 
  2. More than other notable Modern architects, I think Aalto liked to have fun. I’m not talking about his personality, but more his design. He didn’t seem to let the rigidity of modernism and ideals of global appeal restrict him and his design. He seemed to genuinely try and make special places for people, something that could arguably have been overlooked by his peers.
  3. Aalto likes daylight.

 This first set of photos is from the National Pensions Institute:

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_exterior01NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_exterior02NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_exterior03NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_exterior04

I have nothing to say… So I’ll just continue with the images:

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_EntrySign

Oh, here is something! Look at these cool Aalto door pulls:

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_EntryDoorHandleNationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_LeatherDoorHandle

Cool, right? 

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Cafeteria

This building had a really neat cafeteria that had this crazy ceiling that somehow provided radiant heat? (The question mark is because I vaguely remember this piece of trivia, but could also be making this up…)

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_CafeteriaCeiling

This building also had a miniature Aalto Library:

NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_LibraryStairsNationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Library1NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Library3NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Library2NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Library4NationalPensionsInsitute_AlvarAalto_Library5

I may have said this before, but I think Aalto’s best work is his library work. I think the color of the books compliments his quiet palette to well, and his attention to daylight is an obvious match for this typology.

Next are some smaller Aalto projects, starting with this bookstore:

AlvarAalto_Bookstore_Atrium01AlvarAalto_Bookstore_Atrium02

Doesn’t it look so fantastic with the Christmas lights? I think they should consider leaving them up year round. 

Also, you know you’re an architectural Baller when the cafe in your project gets named after you…

AlvarAalto_Bookstore_Cafe01AlvarAalto_Bookstore_Cafe02

These last few images are embarrassing because I honestly cannot remember if they are even related. The interior images are of a bank, but I cannot recall if the exterior image represents the exterior of the bank?

Whatever. I’m tired. Just look at the pics and leave me alone:

AlvarAaltoBuilding_ExteriorAlvarAalto_Bank_StairAlvarAalto_Bank_LightDetailAlvarAalto_Bank_Lobby

Okay. Thats it. That is all the Aalto I have left. I think one more Helsinki post and we can move on to something new. For those of you still reading, Hi. Thanks for sticking around.

For those of you who have given up on me… Come back… I miss you…

 

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Blog Book | year two

I am a little behind schedule. In fact, years behind schedule. But to give you a break from the Helsinki parade that has been happening since January, here is a post about the book OH! design blog | year two.

OH! design blog_ year two Cover

The following are a few random spreads from the publication, which is a selection of my favorite posts from the second year of the OH! design blog. It really isn’t anything too fancy, it just makes me feel fancy to say I’ve made a book (now TWO books).

8-9

10-11

54-55

96-97

108-109

114-115

186-187

194-195

238-239

246-247

See the full book on issuu by clicking here.

For those who have been following since day one, thanks for sticking around. Hope to have year three done someday soon.

For those that are just now joining, where have you been? What the heck took you so long? Geez… Some people…

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Helsinki Files 08: Listen to the Music

Helsinki Music Centre_Exterior night 2 Cover

The Helsinki Music Centre (spelled this way because it is European) is a cool building. That’s about all I remember at this point since it has been so long since I took these photographs…

Helsinki Music Centre_Exterior Amphitheater

It is a nice series of glass, stone, and metal volumes that intersect and are cut away, bordered by a generous stepped lawn.

Helsinki Music Centre_Exterior Day

The green metal volume is a actually some kind of dimpled panel, illustrated below.

Helsinki Music Centre_Facade Material Detail

If the exterior is considered quiet, then the interior could be called loud. It isn’t crazy by any means. very clean detailing, but very nice and very interesting. You could almost call it nuanced in a positive way.

Helsinki Music Centre_Entry

In this grand, atrium type space there is a long stair that ducks under a dangerous looking sculpture.

Helsinki Music Centre_Interior Lobby

At night the reflections of colored light off of this artwork casts brilliant patterns throughout the space.

Helsinki Music Centre_Interior Lobby 2

But the entire building isn’t so architecturally loud. The halls surrounding the main auditorium are very simple and generously dimensioned (in case you were curious about the building’s dimensions…).

Helsinki Music Centre_Interior Hall

And in said halls are supporting program, like a small coffee stand and tables to eat a snack at before a performance.

Helsinki Music Centre_Cafe Seating

The glazing is held up by these interesting struts that allow the human scale space to be mullion free and could potentially be used as a pull-up bar by rambunctious Americans.

Helsinki Music Centre_Glass structure detail

The most interesting part of the music center is the interface between the actual performance hall and the rest of the building. However, it is inevitable that the most noteworthy part of the building went undocumented by yours truly.

At night the large glazed portions of the volumes glow warm green in the cold Helsinki night.

Helsinki Music Centre_Exterior night

I count five more posts about this ancient Helsinki trip before I can proceed to post about more current things guilt free. Bear with me as I get through this painfully long process. 

Or don’t… I’m not in the business of telling you what to do. 

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Helsinki Files 05: Design in the Details

The Talking Heads have always struck me as a very “Art/Design” group. Please enjoy this musical selection (with the strange image of a child associated with it…)

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_08

When in Helsinki, we visited both the architecture museum and the design museum. That is the end of the story. Look at all the detail photos I took:

Helsinki Architecture Museum Model Detail

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_07

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_10

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_09

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_02

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_03

This next image is my favorite of the group:

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_06

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_11

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_12

This is my second favorite image:

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_04

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_13

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_14

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_15

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_16

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_17

Helsinki Design Museum Detail_01

The architecture museum is small, but had a great temporary exhibit. The design museum had an excellent permanent exhibit about Finnish design, and a rather good temporary art exhibit.

That is it.

Sorry for the lazy post, back to school.

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Helsinki Files 04: Show your [Modernist] School Spirit!

Accounting for the length of this post and my interests in multiple styles of music, below are two options of soundtracks for your enjoyment. Choose wisely, but feel free to scroll back up and play the other if you’d like more time to browse this post:

Option 1: This is another cover (I’m having trouble finding original songs to post) by a fellow from Germany (That is close enough to Finland, right?):

Option 2: You should have seen this coming…

aalto-university_cover_lecture-hall-exterior

Because of the significant amount of work Alvar Aalto had done for this University (formerly 3 different universities, if I understand the history correctly…), this school was named Aalto University and is home to some of the Finnish Architect’s masterpieces. The most prominent of which (in my mind) is the lecture hall pictured above (and below).

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Exterior Detail

As with most of Aalto’s work, the exterior of the building is a rather simple form.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Exterior 2

The interior is (as is typical per Aalto) clean and beautifully detailed.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Stairs

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Lobby

Aalto University_Lecture Hall_Outside Doors

The somewhat understated appearance of the exterior and interior spaces make the inside of the lecture hall that much more miraculous.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Interior

In case you are wondering, yes. That is a class taking a test. We quietly snuck in and distracted a hundred or so students with camera clicking and architectural “ooh-ing” and “awe-ing”.

Aalto University_Lecture Hall Electric Lighting Detail

The cove lighting in the space was fantastic too!

After seeing a good sampling of Aalto’s work, it is in my opinion that the best work he does is library work.

Aalto University_Library Exterior

I think I particularly like it because the color of the books compliments his plain white and raw material aesthetics tremendously. Also his knack for daylighting strategies compliments the program of the typical library exceedingly well.

Aalto University_Library Front Desk

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 1

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 2

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 3

Aalto also seems to have the rare ability to define rooms within a space without the use of walls (I think this may be the sign of an architectural master, like Frank Lloyd Wright and the rest of the “Typical Architecture Hero” crew).

Aalto University_Library Daylighting 4

There are also other significant works of architecture on the campus done by architects other than Aalto. The Otaniemi Chapel by Heikki and Kaija Siren is another example of a beautiful, Finnish chapel.

Aalto University_Chapel Exterior

The cross is located just outside the chapel and is framed by a wall of glazing that also captures the nature surrounding the building.

Aalto University_Chapel Interior

The star of the show is the roof structure along which daylight spills into the space.

Aalto University_Chapel Roof Structure Detail

I don’t recall what this building is or if it is even architecturally significant. Its just a cool picture I guess.

Aalto University_Interesting Building

The student union building for the university is also noteworthy. Though I am still uncertain as to whether or not I like the building, I am certain that it is unique.

Aalto University_Student Union Exterior

The interior also has… things happening…

Aalto University_Student Union Interior

However, in my mind, the exterior is easier to photograph (a good measure of the quality of architecture? Probably not…).

Aalto University_Student Union Exterior 2

There is so much more that is happening on this campus that went un-documented, but I think this post probably hit all the high points!

We’ve got spirit, yes we do!

We’ve got spirit, how bout you?!

A

A

L-T-O

Goooooo Aalto!!!

(Traditional Finnish school spirit chant)

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Helsinki Files 03: Wooden Heart

For your enjoyment, press play on the soundcloud widget below. (It is a cover of an Elvis song. Not the same one this post is named after…)

Wood chapel Cover

Right in the middle of the bustling metropolis that is Helsinki (if you’ve been, you know that is sort of a joke…) is the Chapel of Silence or Kamppi Chapel. This tiny little gem is so small that it is difficult to photograph, but I’ll share what I have.

Chapel Of Silence_Exterior 1

Though I am not quite sure how it was constructed (and do not have time to research it), I would venture a guess that the wood volume is covered in lapped strips of wood (as a ship might be).

Chapel Of Silence_Exterior Detail

The interior is a fantastic egg-shaped space that earns its name by being so insulated from the city that you could hear a pin drop (or a Finnish proverb of similar meaning). I crouched and squirmed to get the right angle of the interior, but this is all I could manage:

Chapel Of Silence_Interior

Not great, right? 

Well forget about that. It is one of those, “You gotta be there,” spaces. Instead, check out these detail shots.

Chapel Of Silence_Daylighting Detail

Beautiful day-lighting and carefully crafted electric lighting illuminate the space. Light washes down the smooth wood walls that are the material equivalent (in my mind) of an unfinished butcher block. Said butcher block is cleverly revealed in the doorway:

Chapel Of Silence_Interior Detail 1

Short post this time. A longer one is on the way (whether you like it or not!).

No crying took place during the visit to this chapel…

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Helsinki Files 02: Aalto. Alvar Aalto.

If ever you are in downtown Helsinki, look left. Then look right. After doing so, it is incredibly likely you’ve seen an Alvar Aalto project.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_cover

The famed Finnish modernist has designed projects littered across the city. Each one is unique and varies in importance and presence, but all have a similar “Aalto-y” feel.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Facade

This is the Stora Enso headquarters in Helsinki, and already you can see some very “Aalto-y” traits: A strong modernist grid, a level of civic presence appropriate for the buildings function, and white Carrara marble. 

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Facade Detail

An interesting thing about Helsinki (at least when I was there) is that all the lights are always on. I’ve never seen this building without its electric lights on.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Street with tram

On the side of the building facing the Russian Orthodox Church you can find another very “Aalto-y” trait: Daylighting.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Day Lighting Opportunity

These little pods allow daylight to spill through cones on the interior. Then, at night, exterior lights illuminate the same cones.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Day lighting

Aalto is an example of an architect who believed in the “gesamtkunstwerk” or “total work of art”. What does that mean? Put plainly, it means Aalto designed EVERYTHING in every project.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Handrail Detail

Door pulls, hand rails, elevator portals, luminaires, furniture, etc.

The man did it all. Most amazingly, in person, you can see how Aalto considers the human experience of his work. See how the above railing transitions from brass to wood where the user would grab it? It feels good and keeps your hands from stinking of metal. Beautiful and genius.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Electric Lighting

The building also looks lovely from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Russian Orthodox Church

I think the best part of this particular Aalto project is the way the regularized window grid glows warm in the dark, cold Helsinki winter.

Very “Aalto-y”.

Aalto 1_Stora Enso Head Offices_Night Angle

Many more Aalto projects to come!

Lets see if I can’t make my own studio project more “Aalto-y”.

 

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Helsinki Files 01: Miscellaneous

This is rushed, because I’m already being pulled a hundred different directions. But, it is too early in the term to quit regular blogging. So, in an act of rebellion, here is the first of many posts about my visit to Helsinki:

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cover

We saw so many things in Helsinki (excluding the sun). So many of them fall into nice, neat blogging categories. This post is all about the things that don’t. 

To counter how Scandinavian the above image is, enjoy this image:

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Burgers

An overwhelming presence in the city is the Helsinki Cathedral. I know it is overwhelming based on the building’s siting. Also, the shear number of photographs I have taken leads me to believe the building is important…

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral 03

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral 02

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral 04

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral 01

The interior of this commanding presence is… rather underwhelming…

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Cathedral Interior

In almost complete opposition, the Russian Orthodox is pulled up and away from the city. It’s importance is recognizable, however it is not embraced by the urban fabric as the Helsinki Cathedral is.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Russian Orthodox Church 03

Again, in opposition, this church’s interior is highly ornamented and intricate.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Russian Orthodox Church 02

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Russian Orthodox Church 01

But, Helsinki is a lot more than gloomy skies and churches. The train station, by Eliel Saarinen, embraces the national romanticist movement.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Train Station 01

It is very carefully detailed.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Train Station 04

And is home to the nicest Burger King I’ve ever seen.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Train Station 02

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Train Station 03

Other architecture of historical importance seems to embrace bears. Lots of bears. Bears everywhere.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Traditional Detail

Also, fish. Fish everywhere.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Fish

There are also many more examples of Modern and Contemporary architecture. This is the home field of famous modernist Alvar Aalto (we’ll get to that later, I promise!).

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Housing

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Contemporary Detail 2

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Mall

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Contemporary Detail

The University of Helsinki has also commissioned several new libraries. All of which are nice though some are much more impressive than others.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki University Library 1

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki University Library 2

Of course, Kiasma is one of architect Steven Holl’s most famous projects. Of course, the one time I visit Helsinki it is closed for rennovation…

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Kiasma Detail

Though I am sour about not seeing Kiasma, a photograph of the building will prove that I did see the Scandinavian sun during my trip up north.

Helsinki_Misc_Helsinki Kiasma Sun

More to come!

Now for some homework! Hooray!

Hooray?

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