As part of our 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale coverage, we present Freestanding, an exhibition in the Biennale's Central Pavilion. Below, the team describes their contribution in their own words.
In this second installment of his revamped “Beyond London” column for ArchDaily, Simon Henley of London-based practice Henley Halebrown discusses a potential influence that might help UK architects combat the economic hegemony currently afflicting the country – turning for moral guidance to the Brutalists of the 1960s.
Before Christmas, I finished writing my book entitled Redefining Brutalism. As the title suggests I am seeking to redefine the subject, to detoxify the term and to find relevance in the work, not just a cause for nostalgia. Concrete Brutalism is, to most people, a style that you either love or hate. But Brutalism is far more than just a style; it is way of thinking and making. The historian and critic Reyner Banham argued in his 1955 essay and 1966 book both entitled The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic that the New Brutalism began as an ethical movement only to be hijacked by style. Today, it is a mirror to be held up to the architecture of Neoliberalism, to an architecture that serves capitalism. More than ever, architecture relies on the brand association of the big name architects whose work has little to do with the challenges faced by society, which are today not unlike the ones faced by the post-war generation: to build homes, places in which to learn and work, places for those who are old and infirm, and places to gather. We can learn a lot from this bygone generation.
This special edition of a+u is a comprehensive issue dedicated to Sigurd Lewerentz's drawing collection, originally published as two issues in January and February 2016. Comprised of Lewerentz's hand drawings from the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes) archive and photographs, the issue covers four of the architect's prominent works throughout his career: Malmö Eastern Cemetery, Social Security Institute, Villa Edstrand, and St. Petri Church in Klippan.
The Nordic nations—Finland, Norway and Sweden—have reached a pivotal point in their collective, and individual, architectural identities. The Grandfathers of the universal Nordic style—including the likes of Sverre Fehn, Peter Celsing, Gunnar Asplund, Sigurd Lewerentz, Alvar Aalto, and Eero Saarinen—provided a foundation upon which architects and designers since have both thrived on and been confined by. The Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale—directed by Alejandro Aravena—will be the moment to probe: to discuss, argue, debate and challenge what Nordic architecture really is and, perhaps more importantly, what it could be in years to come.
We're asking for every practice (and individual) across the world who have built work in Finland, Norway and Sweden in the past eight years to submit their project(s) and be part of the largest survey of contemporary Nordic architecture ever compiled.
Update: the Open Call for In Therapy closed on the 24th January 2016.
From the publisher: January 2016 issue of a+u is a special issue focused on the drawing collection of Swedish architect Sigurd Lewerentz (1885–1975).
Working with the guest editor Wilfried Wang, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who conducted an extensive research at the Lewerentz archive of the Swedish Center for Architecture and Design, this 200-page special issue gives a comprehensive view on two of the architect's earlier works: Malmö Eastern Cemetery (1916–1969) and Social Security Institute (1928–1932).
February 2016 issue will feature Lewerentz's later works: Villa Edstrand and St. Petri Church. We hope our readers will enjoy the rich collection of rare drawings by one of the most important architects of 20th century.
Sigurd Lewerentz is one of Europe's greatest, relatively unsung 20th century architects. He was educated as a mechanical engineer at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, but it was an architectural apprenticeship in Munich that set him on his career path — a path that "led him to be revered as one of Sweden’s most eminent architects." This sought after reprint of Janne Ahlin's seminal monograph has now been made available once again.
ReferencesContinuity in Architecture, Sigurd Lewerentz and a Material Basis for Form