One day of 1958 | Borja López Cotelo

Sverre Fehn | Raili Pietilä

The Sun was shining in the sky of Brussels burning the visitors of Heysel’s esplanade. Sverre and Reima were drinking, to small sips, an African coffee. Reima breathed depth, thought a few seconds, and said:

-As it is learned to imagine by major and major concentration you stop being able to work with objects or prefabricated schemes … The really imaginable thing is what really I need. I presuppose that it exists subjectively; on having done it, I break with the whole cultural European tradition, and you might say that I am a shaman.1

Sverre’s face contracted in a grimace. In certain way, it agreed with this Finn:

-The constructions realized by the animals are racionalist: precise and immutable, they are always equal every day and every year … – After a long drink of coffee, it added – The way of thinking about the man, on the other hand, is not rigidly rational and logical; he understands jokes, lies, irrational caprices. If the architecture is completely rational, the men turn into animals.2

Exposición Universal de Bruselas, vista general. Via Flickr, por ElectroSpark

The conversation was interrupted. A child disguised as cosmonaut called the attention of Reima and Sverre to ask where the Satellite was; they indicated towards the pavilion of the U.R.S.S. and during a few seconds they observed how it was moving away hurriedly in that direction. Of bottom there was listened a party in which Garrincha was amusing himself with the Soviet defensas. To stop it seemed to be so simple as to put in orbit a satellite. Reima continued:

-The pace of my language influences the forms that I draw, expresses my outlines, delimits my surfaces. The local expressions and the regional vocabulary are elements of my genuine way of expressing the architecture … Fodder in my native language, in Finn. I speak while work, the pace and the intonation of the Finn govern the movements of my pencil. Do I draw in Finn?3

Sverre exploded in a guffaw. Was he drawing in Norwegian? After a few seconds, he answered:

-We work with letters, with an alphabet, write a history… I see the materials as the letters that we use to write our poetical thoughts.4

Reima Pietilä, sketches for the presidential residence of Finland Mäntyniemi, 1983

In this moment there happened opposite to them two men of small stature speaking a language neither that nor Reima nor Sverre knew. Only they happened to identify the word hexagon. Sverre looked beyond; the people were crowding in the door of the French pavilion. It was happy while he was imagining that later they would be going to visit his pavilion, or that of Reima. It wanted to enjoy of this morning of summer because he was feeling that his sadness would be waiting for it always therehidden, becoming handsome.

Sverre confessed:

-I have never considered myself to be the modern one, though undoubtedly initially I absorbed the antimonumental and pictorial world of Him Corbusier. The funcionalismo discovered a new world, that of the villages of Greece, Italy and the North of Africa … And we, born in the shade of the modernity, we went to see it with our own eyes.5

Waved by these words, Reima exclaimed:

-Perhaps every generation does not have his own fields clear and squeezes them to the maximum before they disappear? – it inquired rhetorically – Clear that, on the other hand, these pioneering rebels advanced blind up to the edge leaving after them part of the fruits for those who were coming behind. There you have it! I started thinking it a lot of time ago, and I continue thinking the same thing.6 -It drank the last drink of his coffee and continued – The modern tradition is a tree, a trunk of the culture. I have the hypothesis of which till now we have not used any more than 30 % than the trunk. 70 % remains latent.7

It was done late. Reima put in foot and extracted a currency. While it her was resting on the table, he added:

-Will the masterpieces of the architecture support the final evaluation of the history? What final evaluation? Of what does it tell the history?’.8 –He guarded his portfolio and began to walk towards the principal avenue.

Sverre Fehn,Sketch of trip to Morocco (1951)

The radio was issuing now a long electrical chord. Maybe Muddy Waters. Sverre closed strongly the eyes and raised his face towards the Sun of midday.

Then it began to remember that winter in Morocco:

-In Africa I found a way of constructing very simply – it was said to yes same. – There, in the desert, a bucket with a puertecita and sometimes a window, maybe a palm to the side … and already it is.9

Borja López Cotelo. Doctor architect

A Coruña. february 2012


1 Reima Pietilä, in conversation with Kaisa Broner-Bauer. Ver VV.AA. (1995) ‘Price, Culot, Pietilä. De la pasión de la tierra’. Revista Fisuras, no.2, p.7

2 Extract of an interview published in 1992 under the title of ‘ An architectural autobiography ‘, included in: NORBERG-SCHULZ, Ch. & G. POSTIGLIONE [1997]2007. Sverre Fehn. Opera Completa. Milán, Mondadori Electa S.p.A., p.279

3 Reima Pietilä en ARTTO, A., R. CONNAH y otros (1985). Pietilä. Intermediate zones in modern architecture. Helsinki, Museum of Finish Architecture, p.9

4 VV.AA.: ‘Sverre Fehn. Above and Below the Horizon’. a+u, Architecture and Urbanism, no.340, p. 17

5 Extract of a conversation between Mathilde Petri y Sverre Fehn. See NORBERG-SCHULZ, Ch. & G. POSTIGLIONE, Op. cit., p. 286.

6 R. Pietilä en JOHANSSON, E., K. PAATERO, T. TUOMI (2009). Raili:Reima Pietilä. Un desafío a la arquitectura moderna. Madrid, Fundación ICO, p. 20

7 Ibid., p. 70

8 R. Pietilä inn ARTTO, A., R. CONNAH and others: Op. cit., p.24

9 Sverre Fehn in NORBERG-SCHULZ, Ch. & G. POSTIGLIONE, Op. cit., p. 281

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