HungerChristopher John Matthews and Christopher Pierce
On the rocky eastern side of the island of Säynätsalo, Intermediate 9 will build the future by reinventing the past. Here, we will be intellectually, physically and emotionally immersed in the built and unbuilt legacy of Alvar Aalto, situating our projects in proximity to his town hall and carrying out experiments, as Aalto himself wrote, ‘that are not yet sufficiently well developed to be tried out in practice and where the proximity of nature may offer inspiration for both form and structure’.
Confronted with this well-mannered Scandic seriousness, we’ll need some other kind of distraction. And so to mix things up, we’ll play with ideas of authenticity by also looking at Aalto’s slightly more roguish, quixotically British copyists – Leslie Martin, Patrick Hodgkinson and Colin St John Wilson. Then to escape from the frozen north altogether, we’ll head to warmer climes, to the comarca of Vallés Oriental and into the atelier of Toni Cumella, where we’ll produce a ceramic slip-cast series from landscape-scale 3D scans of our intricate laser-cut 3D white card constructions and at the same time synthesise our time-based project sections.
All of these experiments and experiences at home and abroad will be punctuated by a set of ‘Aalto Addresses’. Deborah Saunt, MJ Long, Niall Hobhouse, Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Juhani Pallasmaa and Harry Charrington are some of those invited to rant and rave over Aalto and your work. We’ll work at UPM Jyväskylä’s plywood mill, draw on the 2D and 3D archives of the Aalto Museum in Helsinki and Jyväskylä and slip in to some of the psychosis of Knut Hamsun’s unnamed vagrant by foraging in the Finnish forests. And in case you don’t know it already, the unit operates between fine art and architecture – or what Aalto termed ‘artek’– following a non-programme-based design approach, emphasising an array of types of movement in TS, and always, as Cedric Price once said, ‘delight in the unknown’.
Christopher Pierce studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and gained a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Among his recent publications are essays on Jordi Bonet Armengol, ‘Gaudi’s Gatekeeper’ (2011) and Cero 9, ‘Bump and Grind’ (2011). He formed Mis- Architecture (mis-architecture. co.uk) with Christopher Matthews in 2000.
Christopher Matthews is a principal of Pastina Matthews Architects (PMA), and was educated at the Bartlett, UCL. For nearly a decade he worked with James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates on projects including the Singapore Arts Centre, Lowry Centre and No 1 Poultry before setting up PMA in 2000.