Skogskyrkogården: A place of peace.

Dear reader,

Welcome back to my blog! As previously mentioned, however my latest blog post was still about United Kingdom, I have moved to Stockholm since the past October. I didn’t have much time to explore a more “architectural side” of Stockholm, except for the most obvious places such as Gamla Stan (the old town), the city centre, the Vasa Museum, the Fotografiska museum and few other places.

Today I decided to get to know my new city a little more, by visiting Skogskyrkogården, a cemetery designed by Swedish architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz in the early nineteen twenties. Not only the cemetery has been praised for its landscape architecture, winning several prizes including Carlo Scarpa “Garden” award in 1995, but its also been recognized as Unesco World Heritage place, meaning that the cemetery will always been conserved as it looks like. This award is quite incredible, as the Woodland Cemetery it is only one of the two places belonging to modern times to have been put in the list, while all the other Unesco sites are all considerable more ancient.

What strikes the most, it is the incredible connection of this cemetery with nature (both vegetation and animals): Skogskyrkogården inspires more as a place of growing and life, than a place of death and silence.

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Seven Springs Way

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Walking through the paths

It is definitely the scale and the proportion of making this place a real monumental opera. The scale it is in the distances, in the height of the old pine trees, the length of the paths, almost carved in between the nature. The -again- monumental weight and size of the granite fence wall, which surprisingly stands open without gates to give a final closure to the perimeter. Only its size is enough to give a stop to unauthorized passage.

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The limestone fence wall

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The limestone fence wall

 

We started our visit by walking up to Almhöjden, the meditation garden. The hill offers an incredible view of the surrounding green and landscape, but it is also used as a place where to scattered the ashes of the deceased. Some objects and little heart stones are placed above the side walls, ad people are also welcome to sit and enjoy the view fro the wooden benches or from the grass. Having myself a very relaxed vision of death and after life, I really loved the fact that this cemetery is viewed more as a garden and as part of the city, not as secluded area where people should be afraid to walk through.

 

On the same line, I was very impressed of finding a little shop and cafe within the Visitor Center inside the cemetery ground. The building, built in 1924 as service staff area, “was designed by Gunnar Asplund and has puzzled many people due to its, to say the least, unusual design.

The building is designed with a symmetrical floorplan, and four square rooms on the side topped by long roofs, cladded with green copper tiles. The shape, however unusual and playful, makes it look quite integrated with the surrounding nature, possibly because of an echoing of imaginary traditional shapes, especially when it comes to shelters in the forest.

Renovated in 1998 it houses now a visitors and information center, and it is renamed the “Tallum Pavilion”, after Asplund and Lewerentz’s competition entry “Tallum”.

The visitor center offers an interesting free exhibition regarding the cemetery’s architecture, including the original entry design of the two architects, and few pieces which were custom-made design such as the chairs of the chapels, but also the fountains used to watered the flowers on the tomb stones.

 

The interiors are simple but nice, cladded with timber from walls to ceiling, stressing on the funny shape of the conical roof.

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Other places of mention within the woods are the Chapel of Resurrection, quite classical on the outside architecture, but modernist on the inside; the children’s cemetery and Greta Garbo’s tomb.

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Children’s cemetery

 

On our way back, we visited at last the outside of the Woodland Crematorium. The simplicity, yet extremely poignant, design strikes you for its size and strength as you walk from the inside of the terrace, the landscape peeking from column to column. The roof is beautifully cladded in timber, opening with a square to the sky, letting the sculpture by Bror Hjort emerge toward the blue and the clouds with plastic movements. The play of shadows of the long columns give the large terrace a great pace, making it a very interesting inside-outside architectural space.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post! Remember to subscribe to the blog and leave me a comment if you had enjoyed this article! : )

Eleonora

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Newport Street Gallery in London – A personal review

Hey all,

As previously said, here I am again to talk some more about architecture. It is not about my new home-city Stockholm, but it is about London again! In fact, it does seem like I am having some hard times to stay away from the Big Smoke. In February I had the pleasure to visit the stunning art gallery designed by Caruso St John Architects and privately commissioned by renowned artist Damien Hirst to share with the public his own art collections.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

Me and my fellow photographer Giulio (please have a look to his amazing work here!) had the pleasure to speak with a nice man working into the Art Gallery Shop (a small art gallery by itself to be truth), and he told us that Mr. Hirst was very keen in having a public art gallery which was as free as the museums he used to visit as a child. I do think it is admirable that the Gallery is in fact free entry.

The building is beautifully designed and executed, with great attention to detail, proportions and use of materials. What hits me the most, it is the integration of the new within the old industrial factories. The recent intervention closes up the two final corners of the entire block,  the transition in facade so smoothly made to merge the different decades with no efforts at all.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

The first new section is the most regular of the block; this regularity helps to give a better pace to the existing windows of buildings two and three. In the final corner, the openings stay regular and connect to the rest, although the upper ending has a geometrical twist, which stress the contemporaneity of this architecture.

It is definitely the sapient use of the bricks to help this facade coming alive: first in the basement black/dark ones which gives an extra “classical” proportions to the whole; secondly in the well balanced color match between old and new materials: and thirdly in the contemporary use of the bricks in the upper pointed light wells.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

As I mentioned before, the building is perfectly detailed and its “simplistic” shapes enlightened by perfect paces in each gap and encounter between materials: in the picture below an example of this in the “steel meets bricks” detail. You can also see the beautiful light red shade and texture of the new bricks.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

The insides are no less interesting and enjoyable than the outsides. The interiors are minimal and very open, as suits to a contemporary art gallery, the light wells brings indirect sunlight into the upper rooms, leaving the exhibits to be at the center of attentions.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

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Own Photography Source

The space are smartly used during the exhibitions: like in the current Gavin Turk monograph, where the huge three story space room is used to exhibit a small histrionic fake of an English Heritage blue plaque, in its standard 50 x 50 dimensions. This work was part of Turk’s first final show at the end of its three year master degrees. It states: “Borough of Kensington – Gavin Turk Sculptor – Worked here 1989-1991”. More info on the current exhibition on this interesting article on Look up London.

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

The upper and basement floor are connected by elegant white staircases with warm timber steps; most of them are spirals with a changeable geometry, while the one closer to the main entrance it is a platform staircase. All the vertical connections are well curated, included the seemingly  out of scale elevator.

 

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Picture by Verdekiwi Photography

An interesting space is also the restaurant cafe’ “the pharmacy” with extremely curated “themed” interiors, where even the waitress took our orders by writing with a fake syringe pen. I personally would have liked it a bit more minimal and I would have cut out some of the details (like the butterflies decor which I found to be misplaced), however the space keeps it funky and enjoyable for a visit.

In conclusion, if you are planning a trip to London do include the Newport Street Gallery in your architectural itinerary and if you are a Londoner, I hope you have fun visiting it soon!

What do you think of my opinions? Have you visited the art gallery and liked it? Leave me a comment below and partecipate to the discussion!

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PS. A final thank you to Giulio who took these fantastic picture and allow me to use it for the post blog!

After a break… 

Hi all,

After a very blogging year in 2015, I barely coped with my work life and other commitments in 2016; ence my absence from this page. I wasn’t really planning to take one year leave from the blog, but ehi… Life happens!

Apart from being busy, I had a good thinking about the blog. I originally started it to build my own “architectural page” hoping it will bring me some writing collaboration (spoiler: it did), and especially that it was going to impress some of the studios I was going to apply with for a job. This was of course some long time ago!

As a young professional working in Oxford and London, I decided to focus more on writing just for my personal pleasure and with the goal to build some audience… And here came the biggest obstacles of all: copyright. I don’t really think is possible to maintain a popular and exciting design  blog without nice images of projects. And wow, does it take time to Photoshop all the images or also go out to shoot them.

I think maintaining a popular blog is downright impossible unless you take it very seriously and spend lots of time in preparing the contents, including entire photo sets. And because I work full time and I have a multitude of hobbies, I simply do not have enough time to spend on it.

I was also wondering, are blogs still an effective way to communicate with an audience? Do people read anymore? Are Instagram and YouTube the only platforms to effectively speak out our ideas?

I am not giving up on the writing side of the internet though, and I am actually planning a nice post about the beautiful Newport Street Gallery in London… and I should probably plan some other post about my new hometown: I moved to Stockholm! : )

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Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London

Happy New Year friends and readers!

I wish you all an energetic and creative 2016. I always prefer pair numbers, so I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one 🙂

2015 it has been a nice year for me, with a great experience in Qatar to finish a private residential project on site. I hope 2016 will reserve me equally beautiful challenges and realized projects.

To inspire you some more, here there is a selection of pictures I took in late October at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea. It was a very nice exhibition, which displays different artworks from the partnered event in Hampstead Heath.

Have a fantastic day and keep up the good design!

ps: Any new years resolution? Mine is to attend to a pottery course this Spring!

Ysabel Lemay The Chief

Ysabel Lemay The Chief

two moons by Katherine Russell

two moons by Katherine Russell

The Mile Straight by Mary Grant

The Mile Straight by Mary Grant

Susan Laughton Still Morning

Susan Laughton Still Morning

Philip Hearsey sculpture bronze Sombris Variation

Philip Hearsey sculpture bronze Sombris Variation

Philip Hearsey Orbit Sand Cast Bronze and spalted beech

Philip Hearsey Orbit Sand Cast Bronze and spalted beech

Migration by Katherine Russell

Migration by Katherine Russell

Lauren Baker Art Our Journey into the dream

Lauren Baker Art Our Journey into the dream

Jan Tervoort Abstract Painting

Jan Tervoort Abstract Painting

Chris King South Oaks in Winter

Chris King South Oaks in Winter

Anne Morrison crackle bowl with twisting wood

Anne Morrison crackle bowl with twisting wood