While we’re thinking about contemporary architecture, I saw another brand new building earlier this year which also, like Life House, made exceptionally good use of its context and materials. It is called ‘Sajos’, and is the Cultural Centre of the Sami, ‘Europe’s only indigenous people’ to quote its web site. Standing on the bank of Juutuanjoki (River Juutua) at its junction with Lake Inari in northern Finland, the Centre includes the Sami parliament chamber:
Its exterior entrance facade, arranged in a sumptuous curve, is clad in vertical timbers, referencing the endless fir forests of the region and the firs immediately around it in its local setting. The timber combines with great sheets of glass between and behind it not just to merge the building with its surrounds but to merge the setting with the building: externally, the glass mirrors the trees to create an illusion that the woods are in the building as much as that the building is in the woods:
‘Sajos’ is one of those modern buildings, like ‘The Sage’ at Gateshead, with which the shell, here basically triangular in plan, bears little relation to function and fittings inside. ‘Sajos’ contains a lot of lovely space, including a library, and two, free-standing halls. One is the Parliament chamber with gold mural art (reflecting the local gold industry); out of term, it serves as a conference venue:
The other hall is a good-sized and flexible concert hall.
The art in this beautiful building deserves a blog of its own (see post of 22 Dec,’16).