Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Calamari Union in Turku, Finland by LRA
February 14th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: LRA
The project responds to a new demand of making a city outside of the city. How must we design places to live in contexts not yet settled? Limen in Latin means limit, but also threshold, entrance. It is therefore in the etymology of this word that the premises are found for what can become a place of boundary, not to be intended as a barrier, but as an opportunity of connection. How are the limits of cities emancipated? Identity of living. That is the first reaction that the new settlement proposes to promote.
It aims to first facilitate a sense of belonging for the inhabitants in the existing neighborhoods and then for who will live in the new settlement. This is the first objective that the neighborhood poses, using places like Port Arthur, Mantymaki and Marrti as inspiration, where spaces aided socialization between people, increasing a sense of public spirit and the pleasure of living. It is only possible through sharing to appreciate the elements of daily living: the project aims to respond to the requirements of the actual and future dwellers of Kaarninko by encouraging meetings in a series of places of varying qualities. The new settlements continue in the character of the territory regulation derived from the expansion of the city of Turku, freely defining the limits and the entrances to the preexisting structures. From the 19th century fabric of the historic city center, the constructed development brought man to draw soft lines, nerve fibers that design a sinuous movement in the infrastructure of the landscape.
Like cellular forms contain the expansion of the city, the nine constructed rings are contained in an alveolar fabric, designed out of practicable zones in soft mobility that interprets existing signs and borders in the portion of territory presently analyzed. The new urban structure aims to go beyond classic building types designed for the suburbs, which satisfy the demands for which they were designed, in an actual reading of living. The objective is therefore to give form to a new urban, or better still rurban, density, meeting places of the city in places of nature. The project comes out of a re-reading of a Tupa, the main room of agricultural life in Finland. It was a place where the actions and time of a whole community were marked. This space elongates, curves and breaks, becoming a catalyst for the new dwellings. It is a negotiable limit that contains nature, putting man in relation with his territory.
The residences establish themselves on it, attracted by the curvilinear forms that it designs. They rest on the ground like wooden sculptures, trees of architecture; like spectators in a Greek amphitheater or a reconstructed Aaltian landscape, the houses face one another figuratively beyond the strip in concrete and glass, which becomes a stage toward social living. The winding forms are at times complete and other times open or fractured and adapt themselves to pre-existing structures and topography. They recall the infinitude of the fragment and are completed by the imagination of the observer and the forest that enters inside this protected space. Therefore, the boundary becomes a generator of collective spaces; it is no longer understood as a border but as an occasion for meetings. Like the stomata, cellular structures attached to the epidermis of plants, allow a gas exchange between the inside and outside of the plant, the houses, working through the confine, acquire a double breathing; from one side, they encourage the formation of a community and from the other side, they immerse themselves in the forest offering a more intimate rapport with nature.
The constructed strips define public spaces, physically dividing the zones used by cars from protected areas. They filter the pathway from the road to the house, to the linear Tupa, to the courtyards and up to the forest; the succession of the places born from a confine enriches meeting or solitary opportunities for the future residents, responding to the debate on the changes in peri-urban areas of the city through the development of building type. The sinuous spaces are defined by glass rings and simple wooden volumes define the residences, which are taken from slight variations on a classic typological model, recalling rural Scandinavian houses. The variations on the dwelling model contribute to the development of a social sustainability, making people of different walks of life and heterogeneous nucleus live together; the prevalence of young couples will live alongside various other residents such as elderly people, large families or single persons.
The meeting spaces will be of most benefit to the latter among the 102 new dwellings. The architectures are determined by a layering of common and private spaces; the forest crossed by the practicable zones encompasses the residences, which have private gardens, taking the image to the backs of the historical blocks of the urban center. The living room becomes the center of the outside, the service spaces of the house and the linear Tupa, which connects the dwellings defining furnished courtyards where nature is regulated by man’s activity. On the second floor, the glass strip becomes a collective sun terrace where people can meet in a more intimate setting, sharing saunas and home offices. Modeling the archetype form of the house, the roofing is shifted and the tops of the houses staggered in the desire to design a composite skyline above the ideal foundation of the glass strip. It becomes a musical rhythm whose notes scale its staff.
In these small movements, justified by reaching optimal inclinations for the installation of solar panels, there is the recognizability of the project: maintaining reduced heights for a smoother integration with the place does not mean giving up on establishing a centrality for the whole area. This tendency is expressed in the wooded area to the north of the Haritun Puistotie road where the main green area that connects Piispanristi to Skanssi meets a well-known pedestrian path. Here the trees become architecture, determining small winding empty spaces in which sculptures and small pavilions recall the curvilinear forms of the project, making up what is proposed as an entrance into a new rurban park; the forms continue, not ending in what is built, but determining a system in a single, fluid continuum. The whole intervention aims for a double valency like the house that acquires an ambivalence with regard to the landscape, trying to give shape to varying connections between man, tamed nature and the forest; it becomes the permeable shell that protects who lives in it and welcomes who enters. It is, therefore, a project of layers: stratigraphies of intimacy where the limit becomes crossable, imaginary, a line of possibility.
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