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The Finnish Architectural Review 2/2015: Public building

The newest issue of the Finnish Architectural Review 2/2016 discusses public building. How to secure the services of a welfare society and, at the same time, find places to cut public expenditure – these issues have become permanent fixtures on the political agenda. The solutions also affect the built environment. One example of this is the placement of libraries and other public services in commercial facilities.

In Lappeenranta, the new City Theatre was built on the top floor of a shopping centre. The designers, ALA Architects, saw a fascinating setting: “This is exactly how the theatre would return to its roots, to the market place where people gather.” The theatre has been skilfully created, forming a unique entity within the otherwise ordinary shopping centre. The other side of the coin is that the residents’ common public spaces thus become commercialised. In the background lies an essential political question: Is a city a community that takes care of its residents or a company producing services as efficiently as possible? Should daycare facilities and schools also be placed within shopping centres?

The issue also introduces a daycare facility, health clinic, and university building from different parts of Finland. Public buildings of another era are presented in Tuomas Uusheimo’s photographs of Finnish community houses. Built by workers’ associations, voluntary fire brigades, civil guards, youth associations and temperance societies, these buildings depict the ideologies of their era, as well as the strong heritage of collaboration. In his column, the political opinion leader Matti Apunen wonders why planning of new areas is controlled to such detail in Finland, resulting in very similar new environments. He is hoping to see design freed from the tyranny of uniformity and this to lead to more creative diversity.

The Finnish Architectural Review interviews the newly appointed Director of Architecture Information Centre Finland, Hanna Harris, who tells us about her plans to make this new organisation an active and influential operator equal to the corresponding centres representing other branches of art. In the opening article, “The complexity of simplicity”, the internationally renowned architecture academic Juhani Pallasmaa addresses the richness of simple form in various fields of art. Pallasmaa finds that architecture always contains contradictory, even irreconcilable, elements. All these elements should be blended “through a creative process based on deep mental identification”.

For further information about the Finnish Architectural Review, please visit www.ark.fi.

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