Noosa News editor Gail Forrer recently reported on Bark directors, Lindy & Steve’s month long Northern European Architectural Adventure.
In 2008 on their way to the Venice Architecture Biennale, Noosa architects Lindy Atkin and Steve Guthrie of Bark Design, visited acclaimed Pritzker Prize winning Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor in his Haldenstein studio.
“At the time he described to us a witchcraft memorial he was designing,” Steve said.
“He was collaborating with New York artist – Louise Bourgeois – and it was to be built in place called Vardo, in Norway, 64 klms from the Russian border into the Arctic Circle.”
Four years after the conversation, a trip from the Norwegian mainland through a 3km long sub-sea concrete tunnel to the completed 120 metre long timber, canvas and glass memorial on the isolated, windswept island was a key highlight in the couple’s recent Nordic architecture tour.
After a month away, they are just a few weeks home in their Tinbeerwah studio. But they are still buzzing with excitement after visiting countless Modern buildings designed by Northern European architects of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Their trip took them from Helsinki to Amsterdam, through summer in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Holland, starting with the ‘Crafted’ Conference – the 12th Alvar Aalto Symposium in Finland.
Alvar Aalto is the great modernist architect of the Nordic world; his work is dotted throughout Scandinavia but concentrated in his homeland of Finland.
“The Aalto Symposium was a gathering of over 400 architects with amazing international speakers,” Lindy said.
They went on to visit key Aalto buildings throughout the country from Aalto’s Helsinki Studio and the Aalto family’s experimental summer house isolated within a beautiful Beech forest in Finland’s lake country.
Through their tour they checked into ancient churches, chapels and even extraordinary cemeteries.
“The Ecclesiastical architecture was amazing,” Steve said.
The Chapel of St Lawrence north of Helsinki is designed by Avanto, the architecture practice of a young Finnish couple, also speakers at the ‘Crafted’ conference.
In Stockholm Gunnar Asplund’s Woodland Cemetery is a world heritage site for its significant landscape and architecture integration.
The Bagsvaerd church in Denmark by Jorn Utzon, the mastermind of the Sydney Opera House, “is inspirational for its masterful use of natural light, concrete and timber, but with a strong Japanese aesthetic” Steve said.
“The dynamic roofscape of the new Oslo Opera House by the Norwegian architects Snohetta provides an amazing public gathering space on the city’s waterfront”.
Throughout many of the diverse sites, Lindy and Steve noted a lack of defining boundaries such as balustrades, railings or fences. This dearth of signposts led to what Lindy described as a: “Seamless, and integrated urbane feel.”
“It’s not so regulated (as Australia); people are responsible for their own actions.” Lindy said.
In Amsterdam they marvelled at the green and free flowing transport system, particularly the mainstream use of bicycles. But that too, has its quirky side.
“Every year the Amsterdam council fish about 15,000 bikes out of the canals,” Lindy said.
“They are all parked together so closely, if one falls in the wind, they all go.”
The ‘Eye’ Dutch Film Museum is a very recent addition to Amsterdam’s waterfront and is a “contemporary inspiration inside and out, and lauded by the locals” Lindy said.
Fresh after holidays and bursting with inspiration, Lindy and Steve are a powerhouse of ideas.
Lindy said, “The Nordic tour will fuel our ‘Global’ design philosophy which aims to position Bark as a ‘global’ thinking architecture practice working within the place specific ‘local’ context of the Sunshine Coast”.