MAJA autumn 2019 (No 98)

I sat down with Judith Lösing, Julian Lewis and Dann Jessen, the three directors of East Architecture Landscape Urban Design Ltd., the architecture office I work with in London. As an office it is not uncommon for us to exchange ideas and discuss matters that might not have a direct connection to a project but that are a part of a wider architectural discussion. For this issue, I invited the three directors to discuss the way East’s practice that spans around 20 years relates to the theme of authorship in architecture and how practicing more or less exclusively in London shapes that relationship.
A city is a metonym for public space – it is modelled by the moral code of its populace and, conversely, each city frames the type of life it allows and inspires in its people. Some municipalities have begun to queer their city space as an expression of solidarity and global positioning.
Nobody in the architectural domain still regards Contextualism still in terms of mimicry or imitation. A good building is not designed by doing like the neighbors do, by keeping up with the Joneses. There is no such thing as contextual authenticity. On the other hand there is little believe anymore in the power of the iconic building. The contextual designer seems to be caught in the paradox of the personal creation of something that is recognized as local and impersonal.I will not try to rewrite the critique of contextualism in architecture. Rather, what I will try to do is say something about working methods. I will speculate on a ‘knowhow’ of contextualism, much rather than a ‘knowwhy’.
In the building reconstructed by Salto, the space definitely does not compete with the content as it tends to happen in the exhibition venues built during the so-called museum boom in the 1990s, such as Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim art museum. The adjustments here are highly refined and tasteful. It might be even said that a little boring, surprisingly neutral for Salto’s work. The red building is still red with the characteristic red brick kind of retained but in an ornately polished way.
Here in front of us is according to the plan “a simple and practical” factory building1 and we are chatting with the designer: “The architect has nothing much to do in designing a rapeseed dryer and storage depot. The engineers prepare the main drawings. For the rapeseed processing factory building, the architect only had to conceive the walls around it. The entire complex can be controlled also from a mobile phone.”
Rannamõisa funeral home has taken a highly interesting path since its opening. Namely, the opening of the building was accompanied by a change of identity. Was the change of identity brought about by the author through the architecture or the client through the functions of the building? What does this say about our culture of death and the development of the respective architecture?
Balta is a hybrid of a silk screen printshop and a bar for close friends. Its spatial use and construction logic is closely tied to its founders and changing needs: it is a place whose structure is a co-creation of the entire community. To best describe the project architecturally, it is reasonable to regard the establishment as a flow; an accumulation and recycling of materials. Such a dispersion of authorship and, above all, a material-based point of view is rather a matter of spatial aesthetics, one that provides a visible, perceptible experience of sensuosness and physicality. How is a community bound to its space?
The foundation of the Kreis family is the first foundation by a local family to support architecture that was established by Heljo Kreis in 2012 to commemorate her late sons, architects Hanno and Erki Kreis. The aim of the foundation award is to acknowledge noteworthy phenomena, alternative practises and versatile creators who have remained on the margin of the mainstream Estonian architecture. The council of the foundation include Kristel Ausing, Mart Kalm, Pille Kitsing, Ülo Peil, Andres Siim and Emil Urbel. Below, Emil Urbel, Mart Kalm and Kristel Ausing will provide more details about the foundation activities and the award winners.
On tavapärane, et kui eemaldutakse inkubaatorilaadsete tüüpprojektide ehituse ideest, säilib eramu projekteerimisel autori omapära. See, et 1965. aastal kehtinud riigikorra nüansid ei arvestanud individuaalelamute projekteerimisel autorlusega, oli üks põhjustest, miks levisid tüüperamud ja looming oli varjus.
The question is concerned with the unknown and how to give sense to it. As in the end, every unfamiliarity may be given a familiar, perceivable context. However, let us talk about the feeling of unfamiliarity. Could it be something more, something more genuine or even more delicate than the most obvious, for instance, an abandoned building?