A way to think

People tend to say they always write the same book. Construct the same building. Or do the same art work or design. But if, in some tacit way, that have some base to be true, a question everyone wants the answer to is how do you or did you achieve it?. Because when a work reaches certain type of recognition, that basis is a line of reasoning and becomes interesting to follow, copy or just understand the place where it is born. Thought and critic put to practice. A sense of truth, question about giving base to a work made or researched, to create a tendency or prioritize, depends specially of the long-term effort to adapt circunstances and use them as an advantage to apply in different contexts. That helps to achieve the result and a result as goal relevant to worth the effort of understanding. 

Alvaar Alto is the most known representative architect from Finland. One cannot go through architecture history without seeing or studying his work. The way he is presented in a Phaidon documentary speaks to this exclusivity. He was an example of depuration and material research put to place along technology research for a better space enjoyment. But inside doors, Finland, the story about architecture includes him but he is not alone in the quest and it is supposed for architects to know who was there first. Where? In the place of absence of decoration, excess and, at least, from what is superfluous and obvious as excess diminished or excluded from the picture, being the picture the way one makes or choose to make architect and to be an architect.

Of course, when relating to architecture, Erik Bryggman was the partner in several works everyone should have, achieving both a level of detail and leverage very few can take for granted. This biography is, by that matter, an achievement to that representation and exemplary definition, because the explanation is very well done, obtained and exposed with a very easy to read book design layout. And that is to say, is very much to put in a book that makes Alvaar Alto seem normal. It is a very detailed book, and that is the reason a comparison with Alto cannot be restrained or avoided. The small villas are an example of the kind of extended work Bryggmans did, in absolute comparison with his most famous partner. 

Bryggman arrived at Åbo, the oldest city in Finland, in 1921. Alto arrived there in 1927 and both worked together. This work along was important and made part of a transforming approach that will be a characteristic to Finanld’s architecture and architects, and throughout Scandinavia. Some contamination from Le Corubisier was in place and followed up by those trying to work a reasoning of depuration and plane simples lines which include some very consistent furniture design, work which Anna-Lisa Stigell take in her own hands when collaborating with the French architect and some years later with Bryggman and Alto himself. 

So, in a way, is very interesting to read about so many buildings and houses, work made for private clients and for the State and sometimes for the Church, to be described with great accuracy by means of presenting photos, drawings, some technical, other sketches, the essence of any architecture project. The book index passes by every kind of building and program with identical interest and context given, like a letter to Eero K. Neuvonen, director to Åbo University library, who criticized Bryggmans project for the library in 1946. He had won the work in an open competition. And where is possible to read about his deprived of spectacle lines approach to architecture function, more related to Corbusier then to Alvaar Alto work. And where is possible to understand why the majority of his work is, in fact, more related to Scandinavian architecture then what the famous Alto did. 

In summary, this book is a very good tool for architects and people interested in architecture history, and makes the point of inserting Erik Bryggmans work in its own context. Doing so in a very plausible and effective way, is a very interesting document, printed in excellent paper and with enough images, sketches and drawings that give the balanced vision and insight about an architect and his life’s work. 

Ttile: Architect Erik Bryggman: works
Author: Mikko Laaksonen
Editor: Rakennustieto Publishing