December 2, 2014

Strange Crops


Architects typically work to respect context.  Yes – culturally sensitive, site-specific interventions addressing constraints of the urban fabric and historical character of the neighborhood while maintaining a presence on the street can both navigate and transcend competing priorities in a subtle, yet powerful way.  But as a thought experiment, we’ve taken a few brief Scandinavian moments out of context.  Can we learn anything from this series of strange crops?


Wood, out of context, as permeable filter and textured solidity, or concrete and steel as planar and abstract, aging chemical constructs.


The delicate reflection of nature obscured slightly by the (un)focus of the camera as selective recorder, or the organic complexity of literal forest and the calculated rigor of trabeation.


Natural and built ways of defying gravity, or opposing expressions of stereometric horizontality.

Scandinavia instructs, even in fragments.  Sometimes memories of architecture come in plan, section, and elevation.  We often use favorite precedents to consider site situation and alignment in design.  But the brain is strange, and some recollections surface more ephemerally.  They come in flashes of color and smell or the hiss of water on the wood stove or the way the slow heft of the door felt like entering a place outside time itself.

This past summer in Scandinavia, we collected innumerable memories.  We will certainly continue to study our photos and drawings, but we’ve also begun to anticipate seeing strange crops again at future desks with future tasks when essential ideas are just beginning to take shape in our imperfect, yet attentive minds.


TEXTURE: Oslo, 1212; Turku, 1967

RHYTHM: Turku, 1967; Paimio, 1932

LOGIC: Paimio, 1932; Petäjävesi, 1765


Doug Brandon, Claire Shigekawa Rennhack