Ralli and Reima Pietlla Architects TAMPERE MAIN LIBRARY
(Tampere, Finland) 1978-86
The explicit reference represented in this building is a Metso. a large wood-grouse or blackcock, making a mating call or cooing. According to Reima Pietila, the wood-grouse, which lives in the 'deep primeval woodlands' of Finland, has become 'the genius loci of virgin nature' for the Finnish people.
The emblematic bird shape is frequently encountered in the work of northern European architects. Two famous examples come immediately to mind - although built outside northern Europe: the Finnish architect Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal in New York's Kennedy airport and the Danish architect Jorn
Utzon's Sydney Opera House in Australia. Seeking truth in primeval forms and the espousal of regionalism in northern Europe in order to find a genius loci characterizes late Romantic and Symbolist aesthetics of the turn of the century in reaction to dominant classical poetics. Such regionalist attitudes were certainly influential in AlvarAalto's anti-classical formal poetics and have in turn been influential in the Pietilas' Tampere Library. The regionalism of this project is, however, more folkloristic and less abstract than Aalto's, closer to such contemporary Hungarian architects as Beno Taba and Imre Mackovecz.
(Opposite, right, top to bottom) First floor plan; ground floor plan; two sections
(Above) Exterior view of the library's entrance
The frames and mullions of the wooden windows of the Tampere building have 'tree-trunk', circular sections and the columns are circular or semicircular, 'bending down as trees do' and 'thereby giving the impression that the external space continues into the large main hall'. Situated at the crossroads of two parks, the book halls open towards both directions allowing the green spaces to continue into the interior, uniting the parks visually and symbolically creating 'a cosmic interior, with configurations [which] are as mysterious as the signs of the Zodiac'. Pietilà continues, As the trees grow, the park-like atmosphere will intensify as the building isolates itself from the rectilinearity of its neighbouring houses, thus allowing for a close relationship with nature." And he concludes, 'All the building materials are of Finnish origin. The basement cladding and steps are of granite, the facades and curving eaves are of copper, the windows of greenish impregnated pine.'
Neither the symbolist aesthetics nor the regionalist elements, however, are a replay of pre-First World War themes. Rather, Pietila's concerns echo the 1960s views of Team X, held by theoreticians such as Aldo van Eyck
who, through buildings highly charged with poetry and myth, criticized the reductive, utilitarian, over-regimented post-war modernism. In a similar vein, Pietilá stresses that the grouse-shaped building 'is no functionalist form. Form follows the hints of expression and composition.' The Pietilás' melancholic dissent. however, is expressed in lyrical rather than rhetorical terms. As architect-poets the Pietilás are interested less in the art of convincing and more in the act of contemplat ing. Rather than trying to press on the viewer a striking, persuasive image, they have composed a memorable icon which, like the black bird in Wallace Steven's famous poem, is open to many interpretations. The images projected by this building are changeable and relative, and each reading is a response to the changing context in which the building is seen at different seasons of the year. The architects themselves, in the process of conceiving the building, were actually undecided about its image and envisaged at different times a building in the shape of a bending branch, a lamb's head and, finally, the Finnish woodgrouse, believing that architectural form is a projection of the designer's and viewer's world-image.
(Above) Interior view
(Opposite) Three conceptual drawings, including a volumetric sketch (left) and a sketch of the plan (below right)
(Above) Interior view
Richard Rogers LLOYD'S OF LONDON
(London, England) 1978-86
Just as Richard Rogers' and Renzo Piano's Pompidou Centre seemed to bring the space age to the middle of Renaissance Paris, next to its medieval and Roman quarters (pp. 84-89), so did Rogers' Lloyd's of London in the equally historic part of the British capital almost ten years later. The circumstances could not have been more different. The Paris building was a high-tech Parnassus, a 'people's centre', as the architects interpreted it. Lloyd's, by contrast. was a temple to Hermes and Tyche, the centre of a global market place.
President Pompidou and his advisors saw the Cultural Centre as an opportunity to revolutionize the stagnant waters of French culture and revitalize the declining area of Les Halles and Le Marais. In London, Lloyd's, a private 'society of underwriters formed into syndicates', asked for an 'owner-occupied' building which would help to take the established, dynamic and essentially commercial institution into the 21st century; it should also help Lloyd's maintain its leading world position and allow for its continuing expansion. At the same time, Lloyd's wanted a building contributing to the environment of the City of London'. Openness, flexibility, innovation were priorities in the programmes of both facilities.
Architecturally, the two projects may appear similar, and not only because they are both designed by Rogers. Other, more specific common programmatic considerations contribute to their physical similarities. The need for large, open exhibition areas, in the case of the Pompidou Centre, and the requirement for a single underwriting room (reinstating the old Lloyd's Adam Room, but many times larger), together with large, open floor areas for offices in the case of Lloyd's, led to schemes with a characteristic topology. Both locate most structure, movement and service elements in special 'servant' zones in the outer edges of the 'served' core. Equally important in this decision to establish distinct service zones in the outside of the building was the belief in technological 'legibility', the credo that all components of the building should be 'movable and express their movability'.
Behind this design concept - defining a new building type, polarizing its zoning between servant' and 'served', as well as turning inside out traditional locations of services within the building volume - lies an important precedent in the architecture of Louis Kahn. But whereas Kahn gave these duct-filled, outside towers the romantic, historicist look of medieval castles.
Rogers, reflecting Reyner Banham's ideas for an architecture of 'the second Machine Age and Buckminster Fuller's 'liberated attitude to those mechanical services', made sue 'packed together' equipment not only visible but also symbolic.
In the case of Lloyd's, the topological coo I cept of 'servant' and 'served' satisfied the i need for a major central space, a pantheon', for the workplace. In cases such as Petrvs Berlage's Main Hall of the Amsterdam Stoc> Exchange (1903). Frank Lloyd Wright'sLarkir Building in Buffalo (1904-05) and, more recently, Herman Hertzberger's Centres Beheer (pp. 48-51) the central spaceactsas I a mechanism for sustaining a corporate iden I tity. but also as a de-alienating device. «1 provides an icon of community over a divis/ve I world of private enterprise and division of I labour. Hence, in Lloyd's, the memorable I inward-facing great atrium overlooking the I new Adam Room and surrounded by ar I outward zone of six service towers.
For this 'package of services'. Rogers uses I highly expressive construction details, a lyncal I universe of 'nuts and bolts', as well as a ve*v I high standard of finish and cladding in star-1 less steel. All this contrasts favourably withtte I
(Opposite, left) Exterior view
(Opposite, right) Roof plan and surroundings
(Below right) Plan of galleries surrounding new but traditional-looking, pseudo-modernist, stony 'monolithic blocks'. But. as the British architectural critic Colin Aniery remarked in an article in the London Financial Times, commenting on the newspaper's presenting to Lloyd's the Architecture at Work Award, 'a whole city of Lloyd's buildings would not be an entirely agreeable place'. From the urbanistic point of view, what seems questionable is the idea of dressing a building man envelope, which, whatever its sculptural, symbolic or functional character, leaves no significant openings from which to look out at the neighbouring buildings or open areas, as traditional architecture does. While this is acceptable, if not actually commendable, for a cultural complex like the Pompidou, it is infelicitous for a workplace. Thus while Lloyd's in its well-formed structure offers a highly civic image, in its highly introspective topology it lacks an urbane character.
One of the most carefully studied, designed and manufactured components of the building -a true feat of innovation in building history -involved a 'transfer of technology from other industries'. For instance, a contractor had to be found with qualifications beyond those of the building industry for the 33 prefabricated
(Opposite) The upper levels of the atrium
(Left) Escalators link the dealing room to th« lower tiers of the atrium toilet modules that clipped on' to the core of the complex. The one selected specialized in the fabrication of vessels for the nuclear industry. Discovery and invention often follow strange paths. Seemingly specialized novelties, such as those involving the prefabricated toilets, used by the architect and Ove Arup & Partners, are likely to have implications in building beyond the limited problems at hand. Even so, when a building represents so few of its other functions in its overall appearance, to assign to these units such an important position seems quite deliberately to invite controversy.
The project has been criticized for the claustrophobic quality of the work spaces, their lack of contact with the outside, their minimal dimensions. Such complaints lec Lloyd's in 1990, less than two years after the occupation of the building, to reorganize these spaces. Of coure, complaints such as these are often resistance to the new; it takes time for the users of a building, who have set habits, to enter the new lifestyle that a new building creates. However, other problems also emerged which could not be easily solved, such as the use of new technology by tne | brokers and underwriters and, most impor- I tantly, the unforeseen massive growth of the organization. These complaints were magni fied by the loud, mostly negative, publicity the project received in connection with its commit ment to technology and its corollaries, flexibility and change. On a deeper level, criticisms may also lie in the limitations of the scheme's topology which places the zone of structure and sen/ices at the periphery of the served j volume - limitations which, in the case of Lloyd's, are even more restrictive and circum- J scribing than in the Pompidou Centre. Perhaps j the problems of Lloyd's lie, ultimately, not so much in its newness or radicalism, but in its 1 conservatism. In the last analysis, the scheme's rationale is iconological, and therefore restrictive, a preservation of the spatia J ideal of the temple, albeit a Futurist-Construe-1 tivist one, whose peripheral columnar orders I are. in addition to support elements, lifts, | risers, toilets, pipes, ducts.
Located between memory and invention, I raising as many questions as the ingenk answers it offers, a building of superb craft*! manship and sublime effect. Lloyd's is a major j stepping stone in the history of the workpl« and its adventures of discovery.
(Opposite) The upper levels of the atrium
(Left) Escalators link the dealing room to th« lower tiers of the atrium
Atelier Peter Zumthor
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