WHAT IS A HOUSE FOR住宅所为何

Sami Rintala: I am a student of Juhani Pallasmaa, therefore I believe mostly in a phenomenological way of explaining things. I am attached to this house simply because it is part of my life, of a period when I was forming my idea of the world.

My grandmother used to live in one of them. I remember finding history books in the attic, an archetypical space where all memory was kept, and being in the cellar, close to the ground, where all the food and confitures were stored. This house became my tool for organizing and understanding the universe, my experiences, and memories. It is with me, in my thinking, somehow subconsciously. It’s a house I see in my dreams now and then. I am not objective about it, but I also recognize some spatial and technical features that I can talk about analytically.

Rintamamiestalo is a classic example of a very economic and practical solution to the problem of emigration that happened after the second world war, when, in short space of time 150-200k people needed to be housed. The Finish government invited the best architects at that time to collaborate on the design of a model house that could be built quickly. There were more versions of it, however, what I remember best was a cubic house with a fireplace in the middle and the floor plan divided into four rooms. It was a very logical, archetypical layout. In our cold climate, it significantly reduced the technical space because the heat was distributed along the central vertical axis.

To my knowledge, no government has done such a thing, in such a coordinated and concentrated manner, either before or after. It is kind of funny that to come up with the easiest and the most obvious solutions you need to have an objectively very difficult situation.

It is a layered house, where you have everything very close to each other, with slight changes in the light conditions, slightly different atmospheres, temperatures, very private and very public spaces next to each other. You are in a small theatre of life. It is a very packed universe. If you are standing in the middle of the house, you are never more than 6 meters away from all activities.

The scale of the house is different from the one we are accustomed to nowadays. Everything is smaller, the stairs are very narrow. There is a spatial and functional density caused by sheer necessity. There were originally ten people living in that house, now the same space would be for two. I find this density a very positive thing. I like to think in terms of the economy of means and the qualities of spaces that come out of it. I am now drawing some cottages and I know I am drawing them too dense for today’s standards.

AFTER THE WAR, THERE WAS A NEED TO NOT ONLY REBUILD HOUSES BUT TO ALSO REVIVE THE SPIRIT OF A NATION, ITS IDENTITY AND FUTURE. THIS WORK HAD A POLITICAL DIMENSION AS WELL. 

I think these houses were not very political in sense of promoting an idea. There was just a huge objective problem to solve. The influence for the houses came from the USA - the balloon frame technology, but also from Japan and its traditional houses. Rintamamiestalo mixes American pragmatism with Japanese aesthetics. Apparently, there is a link to universal models, it is neither so much a Finnish invention, nor does it look like one. It was more a part of the international modern movement. Finland, in comparison with other Nordic countries, did not have a very conservative tradition so it was easier for it to jump relatively quickly into modernist solutions. 

A couple of years ago there was an initiative aimed at designing a house prototype that could be serially produced in Finland. It did not work out. It became a festival of fanciness aimed at the research of romantic ideas. The houses built in the 40’s were not romantic at all. They were also based on people’s capacity to build at that time. Most of the houses were built by the soldiers themselves. In the 60’s and 70’s we lost this capacity as a common skill. However, these times were still good for crafts and manufacture. After 80’s the culture went in the ideological, romantic, and speculative direction that in my opinion was a period of darkness that lasts partly till our days. 

I find it interesting that Rintamamiestalo were prefabricated but they did not feel like that because they had elegant proportions, reflecting something of Palladian architecture. This was a long-term thinking, both in terms of usage and in terms of its composition. If you have prefabricated houses today you know in an instance what they try to imitate. 

STANDARDISATION IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO BRING QUALITY TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND IT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE IS ALWAYS A RISK OF FLATTENING REFINED AND POETIC ASPECTS THROUGH REPETITION AND COMMON SOLUTIONS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NECESSARY TO AVOID THE BANALITY OF STANDARDISATION? 

When you deal with standardisation, I think it is important to keep the robustness of an idea and stay close to the bare minimum. This allows for later appropriation and adaptation to the user’s way of life and the landscape. It is a difficult task. You make decisions for many people. I think the architects of Rintamamiestalo did a fantastic job because they created a tool, a hammer that fits most hands. It was up to you how to use it. The houses are made out of wood, so you can modify them easily, add something or cut it out.
 

Today, we cannot do anything of the scale and impact of Rintamamiestalo because we think that every opinion is important. You can also have an opinion on the importance of every opinion. I don’t think every opinion is important when you want to make good architecture. It is simply not a democratic process. The architects in the 40’s designed with their full powers, supported by the state. I would not call the process democratic. They made a project of a house out of their preferences, and it became a house for half a million people. In the framework of the bare minimum, they decided that a house needed a cellar and an attic. Thanks to this I could have a fantastic space under the roof as a child and a cellar, where we could also make very good cheese and keep potatoes, both of which lasted much better than when kept in the fridge. It was based on the farmers’, common way of life, closely connected to nature, not automatized like houses of today.

For me at least, it is a question about ethics, about what is important in life. It's fantastic that the architects decided that each house needed an attic and a cellar. These are the spaces I remember best. It taught me that the secondary spaces are much more important than we consider them to be. They are totally reduced today because they are not square meters that you can sell.

DID THEY HAVE A SAUNA? WAS IT ALWAYS PART OF THE CULTURE?

Usually, you put a sauna next to the lake because you want for a swim after. When exactly sauna became part of the culture, I am not sure. I know that in the earliest houses in Finland they occasionally heated them with a fireplace, so they were sort of smoke saunas. It was the same building where you lived. Later when people started to have more resources, they built separate buildings for living and sauna. However, it was not a bad idea to heat the house, kill all the bacteria, protect food in winter.

IF WE REFLECT ON NATURE IN FINLAND, WE AUTOMATICALLY THINK ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM THE SEVERE CLIMATE, AND THE COMPACTNESS OF ARCHITECTURE. HOW DOES THIS INFLUENCE THE WAY PEOPLE SEE THEIR OWN DOMESTIC SPACE AND FOR THAT MATTER NATURE ITSELF? 

Nowadays people have more free time, they also seem to accept the fact that the summer is short and tend to build terraces and balconies to enjoy warmer days. At the time when Rintamamiestalo were designed, people didn't have spare time and they didn't go out to play in the sun. We have to remember, until around the 1950’s Finland and Norway were some of the poorest countries in Europe. 

Therefore, the traditional relationship with nature is down to earth and very seasonal. For instance, last night it was difficult to sleep because the house was waving in the wind, which was blowing at around 50 meters per second and on top of that, the ambient air temperature was minus 10 degrees. In these conditions the primary task of a house is to just keep you alive. The house needs to be almost like a cave where you can withdraw to the fireplace. On the other hand, in the summer, it’s more a place to sleep rather than anything else. 

One of the best memories I have from my grandmother's house is during winter. There was snow all the way up to the windows, minus 30 degrees Celsius outside, and sunny weather. At that time the windows had only one pane of glass. Inside it was around 15 degrees. That means, 45 degrees difference in couple of millimeters of glass. They were putting moss around the windows because there wasn’t any extra insulation. I remember how beautiful the moss looked, green and shining with a little moisture draining from the sill. It shows a level of coexistence with nature which in a very short time became unimaginable. 

I read that, around two hundred years ago, when the first Nordic people went to America, there were Finns vanishing into the forest to live with the Indians. They were at a similar level of economic complexity, they shared the same way of using nature and understanding it, so they had respect for each other. Now we have become a kind of consumerist society and these simple relationships have been forgotten. 

Today in Finland, people often have a very nostalgic idea about nature. We think that we have a lot of forests and that we deal with them very well, but it's not true anymore. People don't know how to live in nature. It becomes an ideological relationship. Everybody has a cottage, but they are becoming more and more secondary houses built for the view and fresh air. I think there are still certain ideas, especially among young people, that are having a small renaissance. Typically, these are how to prepare and handle food and how to make things directly out of resources instead of buying them all the time. However, the general condition is radically different from the one not so long ago. 

RINTAMAMIESTALO ARE VERY AUTONOMOUS OBJECTS. WHAT STRATEGIES WERE USED TO MAKE THEM FIT TO THEIR SURROUNDINGS? 

Yes, the houses are more symbols in the landscape. They have a character of an object that landed somewhere. It is an interesting paradox of contextual design. I found out in my professional life that if I want to make a project that is very anchored to the site it is often the best idea to turn your back to the site and make an object in the landscape, a Jungian symbol. That is also very site-specific. It marks the human presence. And eventually this object is surrounded with secondary buildings that come into a more intimate, empathetic dialog with what is there. In the case of Rintamamiestalo, they are attached to the landscape thanks to those smaller objects that complement them and are kind of roots or branches that link the house with what was there before. They become also functionally the most important devices that make living in the forest possible. I also see it in my own house in Norway. I am constantly doing something around it, communication systems, trees, stones, terraces. They really work and make living there much better. I think a house can be sometimes a bit brutal to the site. The question is if you want to live in harmony with nature or in a discussion with it. Rintamamiestalo are good examples for discussion. Both from 20 km and 1 km distance they appear in different colours and they already tell the story, they are symbols of a certain time and certain culture. 

WHAT IS THE PLACE OF RINTAMAMIESTALO NOWADAYS IN FINLAND? 

It depends on who you ask. If you go to the North, I think they would say it is old and worthless and it would be best to tear it down. They want to live as everyone lives now. If you ask a young couple from Helsinki, they would like to have it because it’s their romantic idea of having their own potato field. It is a different kind of luxury for them, closeness to nature and having some history in the house. It would be interesting to ask my mother about it. She grew up in this kind of house, but as soon as she could she moved to Helsinki - as far as possible from it. To me, it is partly a nostalgia that makes me remember, but I also see that these houses simply offer a very good lesson. 

WHAT IS THE MAIN LESSON THAT YOU TOOK FOR YOUR OWN PRACTICE? 

First, I think it would be the economy of means. I like this feeling of having the necessary minimum, the fundamentals, and not trying to shout. It is interesting to think in terms of almost a machine, supplemented by the atmospheric qualities that make you feel the intimacy of the house. Of course, spatial quality is something that today we are aiming at as a discipline and it might be that Rintamamiestalo is not the most exciting building from this point of view. Anyway, I am not so worried, about spatial quality as a starting point, for me, firstly a building exists as a tool to be used and not only as an image. Spatial quality is always something that you must approach from different angles, you cannot go directly towards it. It comes together with several factors, it climbs on the scaffolding you make with structure, economy, materials, etc. It is a result of the consistency of an idea. Rintamamiestalo was a very consistent, robust one, and one could argue we need something of that kind today. 

20.08.2020 and 22.01.2021

萨米·林塔拉:我是朱哈尼·帕拉斯玛(Juhani Pallasmaa)的学生,因此我绝大程度上相信以现象学的方式来解释事物。我之所以迷恋这种住宅单纯是因为它是我生命中的一部分,而那正是我世界观形成的时期。我的祖母住在其中一栋。我记得在阁楼上寻找历史书,那是一个保存所有记忆的原型空间,还有靠近地面的地窖,储存着所有的食物和果酱。这个房子成为我组织和理解宇宙、经验、记忆的工具。它与我同在,在我的思想中,甚至是潜意识里。这是我过去到现在梦中会浮现的住宅。我对它并不完全客观,但我也可以分析的辨别出一些空间与技术上可以被谈论的特征。

战争前线士兵的房子(Rintamamiestalo)是为了二战后解决移民问题的一个经济实用的典型案例。15-20万人需要安置。芬兰政府邀请了当时最好的一群建筑师合作设计一种可快速建造的样板房。出现了很多版本,但我能记得最好的一种是一个立方形的房子,中间有一个壁炉,平面被划分为四个房间。这是很合乎逻辑的一种典型布局。在我们寒冷的气候条件下,它有效的减少了技术性空间,因为热源沿中心垂直轴分布。据我所知,在此之前或之后,都没有政府以这种协调和集中的方式做过这样的事情。 为了提出最简单且显著的解决方案,您需要面对客观上非常困难的情况,这很有趣。

这是一个有层次的住宅,在其中所有的事物都非常靠近彼此,一点细小的光线变化,轻微的氛围区别,温度,非常私密和公共的空间相邻。你在一个生活的小剧场中,压缩的宇宙。当你站在住宅中央,6m的距离内,你可以进行所有的活动。

这种住宅的尺度不同于我们今天习以为常的规模。所有的东西都要小一点,楼梯非常狭窄。空间和功能上的密集由纯粹的必要性引发。 原来那房子里住着十个人,而现在同样的空间里只会有两个人。我认为密度是很积极的一件事情,我喜欢考虑由之而来的经济意义和空间质量。我现在就在画一些小房子,我知道以今天的标准来看他们过于稠密了。

战后,不仅要重建房屋,还需要重振一个国家的精神、身份和未来。 这也涉及政治层面。

我认为这些住宅并不是很政治化的,因为没有宣扬一个理念。只是有一个巨大的客观问题亟需解决。这种住宅收到来自美国的影响——轻骨式架构技术(ballon frame technology),也有来自日本传统住宅的。战争前线士兵的房子融合了美式实用主义与日式美学。显然的,这是一种普世化的模型,既不是芬兰的创新,或看起来像是。它更像国际现代主义运动的一部分。芬兰,相较于其他北欧国家,没有非常保守的传统,所以更容易相对快速的跃入一种现代主义解答。

几年前有一项倡议,旨在设计一种适于在芬兰批量生产的住宅原型。并没有成功。这成为了一个研究浪漫想法的幻想节。而40年代设计的住宅毫不浪漫,它们基于人们建造的能力。大多数住宅都是这些士兵自己盖起来的。在六七十年代我们失去了这种通识般的能力。然而,那还是手工艺和制造业的好时期。八十年代后,文化走向意识形态,浪漫主义和投机的方向,在我看来,这是一段延续至今的黑暗时期。

我觉得有趣的是,战争前线士兵的房子是预制的但看起来不像。因为它们优雅的比例,反映出一些帕拉弟奥建筑的内容。这是一个长期的考虑,既从用途上也从比例上。如今你拥有一些预制化的住宅,你立刻就会知道它们在模仿什么。

标准化对于给最可能多的人群提供品质是必需的,也是任何民主化进程的组成部分,另一方面,在重复和共通的解答中,也有将精致和诗意扁平化的风险。你认为需要什么来避免标准化的平庸?

当你处理标准化,我认为很重要的是保持想法的稳健,同时接近最大限度的极简。这允许将来的用户挪动和适应他们的生活方式和景观。这是一项艰难的任务。你要为很多人做决定。我认为战争前线士兵的房子的建筑师完成了一个了不起的工作,因为他们创造了一个工具,一个大部分手都适用的锤子。怎么使用都取决于你。这些住宅都是木构的,所以你可以很容易的对其进行调整,增加或者去除。

今天,我们不能再做任何像战争前线士兵的房子这种规模和影响力的事情了,因为我们认为所有的意见都是重要的。你也可以对每个意见的重要性发表意见。我觉得要做好的建筑就不能认为每个意见都是重要的。简单来说这就不是一个民主的程序。四十年代的建筑师以他们的全力去设计,由国家支持。我不会说这个流程是民主的。他们以自己的喜好设计住宅,然后这成了五十万人的家。以最低限度的极简为框架,他们决定一个住宅需要一个地窖和一个阁楼。收益于此,作为孩童我可以拥有一个精彩的屋顶下的空间,和一个我们可以做优质奶酪和储存土豆的地窖,这两样东西在这里都比冰箱里保存的好很多。这都来自于农民的生活常识,紧密的连接于自然,不像今天的住宅那种自动化。

起码对我来说,这是伦理问题,关于生活中什么是重要的。建筑师决定每个住宅需要一个阁楼和一个地窖,这太棒了。这是我记得最清楚的空间。这告诉我次要的空间远比我们以为的更重要。它们在今天被削减了,因为这不是可以拿来售卖的面积。

它们都有桑拿么?这一直是文化的一部分么?

通常,你会在湖边放置一个桑拿,因为你会想之后去游泳。当严格意义上的桑拿成为文化的一部分后,我不确定。我知道芬兰最早的住宅有时会用火炉加热,所以它们有点类似烟熏桑拿。它们在你居住的同一栋房子里。之后当人们拥有更多的资源,他们开始把居住和桑拿独立出来。总之,加热房子去杀死细菌和保护冬天的食物,是一个不错的想法。

如果反思芬兰的自然环境,我们自然而然的就会考虑到一种必要性——保护自己远离严酷气候,以及建筑的紧凑严密。这会对人们看待自己居住空间和自然本身的方式产生怎样的影响?

如今人们有更多的自由时间,他们也接受了夏季短暂的事实,并倾向于建造露台和阳台以享受温暖的日子。然而在战争前线士兵的房子被设计的年代,人们没有多余的时间在日光下玩耍。我们要记住,直到五十年代,芬兰和挪威都是欧洲最贫穷的那部分国家。

因此,传统的与自然的关系是非常踏实且季节性的。例如,昨晚因为风吹着房子摇晃而难以入眠,每秒的风速50米,同时周围的空气温度是负10度。这种情况下,一个住宅最根本的任务是使你活下来。它需要几乎像一个洞穴,使你可以撤离到火炉边。另一方面,在夏天它更多是一个睡觉的地方而非其他。

我在祖母家最美好的回忆之一是在冬天。窗外都是雪,户外零下30度,天气晴朗。那时候窗户只有一层玻璃,室内是零上15度。这意味着几毫米的玻璃内外有着45度的温差。他们在窗户四周布置着苔藓,因为没有其他的保温了。我记得窗户周围的苔藓看起来有多么美,绿意,闪烁,氤氲着窗台上滲出的微薄湿气。这展示了自然和住宅经过短暂的时间,能在一个不可思议的程度上共存。

我曾读到,大概两百年前,当最早的北欧人去美国,有芬兰人消失在森林中和印第安人一起生活。他们处于相似的经济复杂度下,共享相同的利用和理解自然的方式,所以他们彼此尊重。现在我们变成了一种消费主义社会,而这些简单的关系已经被遗忘了。

如今在芬兰,人们对自然有一种非常怀旧的念头。我们觉得我们有很多森林并对之处理的很好,但这不再是事实了。人们不知道怎么在自然中生活。这成为了一种意识形态上的关系。每个人都一座小屋,但它们越来越变成为了视野和新鲜空气而建造的次要的住宅。我认为仍然有一些想法,尤其在年轻人中,正在显著的小规模的复兴;如何准备和处理食物,如何从原料生产东西而不是一直购买它们。然而,普遍的情况还是与不久前的完全不同了。

战争前线士兵的房子是很自主的物体(object)。采取何种策略使得它们适应于环境中?

是的,住宅更多是景观中的标志物。它们有一个对象(object)落于某地的特征。这是基于文脉(contextual)设计中的一个有趣的悖论。在我的职业生涯中,我发现,如果我想让一个项目与基地紧密相连,最好的办法是转身背对基地,创作一个景观中的物体,一个荣格的象征。这也是非常有场所性的,它标志着人类的在场。而后在物体周围的次级的建筑会慢慢的与之进行更亲密,感同身受的对话。

战争前线士兵的房子为例,它们与景观相接,得益于那些小的物体使其完整,而那些树根、枝干将房子和过去相连。它们也成为功能上最重要的设施,让居住在森林成为可能。我也在我在挪威的住宅上看到这一点。我持续的围绕着它在做一些事情,通讯系统,树木,石头,台地。这些东西确实起了作用,让那儿的生活变得更好。我认为住宅有时候可以对场地粗暴一点。问题在于你想和自然处于和谐还是对话中。战争前线士兵的房子是值得谈论的好案例。从20千米到1千米的距离来看,它们会以不同的颜色出现,而它们已经在讲诉故事,它们是某个时代与某种文化的象征。

现今战争前线士兵的房子在芬兰是什么地位?

这取决于你问谁。如果你去北部,他们会说这房子已经太旧了,没有价值,最好推倒它们。他们想和其他人住的一样。如果你问一对来自赫尔辛基的年轻人,他们会说想拥有一栋,因为能有自己的土豆田是他们浪漫的理想。接近自然而有故事的住宅,这是对他们一种不同的奢侈。询问我母亲会很有趣。她在这种住宅里长大,但是她一有条件就尽快搬到了赫尔辛基远离了它。对我而言,一部分是我记忆中怀旧的情结,但我也感受到这些住宅单纯的给我上了一课。

什么是你对于自己的实践获得的主要的一课呢?

首先,我认为是手段上的经济。我喜欢这种只有必要的极简、根本的感觉,而不是试图喊叫。从一台机械的角度去考虑是很有趣的,辅以空气的质量,让你感到住宅的亲密。当然,空间质量是我们今天作为一门学科研究的目标,从这个角度看战争前线士兵的房子可能不是最让人兴奋的建筑。不管怎样,我并不担心,它作为关于空间质量的一个起点,建筑作为工具使用而不仅仅是一个图像。空间质量一直是你需要从不同角度获取的,你不能直接朝着它前进。它和其他一些因素一起,爬在你由结构、经济、材料等筑成的脚手架上。它是想法一致性的结果。战争前线士兵的房子是一个非常稳定,强大的建筑,有人会辨驳我们今日需要这样的事物。

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Sami Rintala

Sami Rintala (born 1969) is an architect and an artist, with a long merit list after finishing his architect studies in Helsinki Finland 1999. He established architect office Casagrande & Rintala 1998, which produced a series of acknowledged architectural installations around the world during the next five years until 2003. These works combine architecture with critical thinking of society, nature and the real tasks of an architect, all within a cross-over art field using space, light, materials and human body as tools of expression.

In 2008, Rintala started a new architect office with Icelandic architect Dagur Eggertsson, called Rintala Eggertsson Architects. The office is based in Oslo, South Norway and Bodø, North Norway. Important part of Rintala’s work is teaching and lecturing in various art and architecture universities. Teaching takes place usually in form of workshops where the students often are challenged to participate the shaping of human environment on a realistic 1:1 situation. Sami Rintala’s work is based on narrative and conceptualism. Resulting work is a layered interpretation of the physical, mental and poetic resources of the site. The whole body of work is presented at homepage: 

www.ri-eg.com