So much time has passed since my last post here, yet it felt like only a minute! Although another architectural competition has consumed way too much of my lifetime (sounds like a complaint when actually I enjoy it – it’s the purest form of architecture), I was able to get all the finnish feeling in my freetime:
Eating Reindeer Meat:
Although I tried it on a Finnland-Trip before, it still feeled like a new experience having it in an original finnish restaurant, deliciously prepared and in a reasonable amount this time (contrary to last year). It was very tasty!
Sauna-ing (is this even a word?):
I actually feel bad that until now I managed to go to a sauna ONLY ONCE! Fortunately it was at the Uimahalli – a marvellous public swimming hall from 1928. And it has 5 saunas (wood, steam, infra-red and two electric ones) – absolutely recommendable!
Scandinavia (and Finland*) are known for being far ahead considering design objects. No wonder that the “Helsinki Design Week” was well attended – also by me. Design Market, Design Fare, “Showroom Walk” (with delicious appetizers + free wine!) and “Open (Architecture) Offices” were only a few of the highlights. Exciting & Inspiring!
Feeling the cold coming:
In my first weeks it was sunny and we had daylight until like 9pm. Though it didn’t feel like August, it was still nice (autumn-)weather. Unfortunately it didn’t stay like that. Lately temperatures are sinking and days become shorter. To be honest: Thinking about winter here scares me a little!
*According to different definitions, Finland is very often not counted as “scandinavian” and some Finns seem to be allergic against being called scandinavian, while others consider themselves as such.
With a little delay, here are some pictures of the trip:
Every architect or student knows how exhausting working on a competition can be. So after spending one full weekend in the office, my fellow interns and I decided to balance this with a weekend-trip to Estonia’s Capital right after turning in everything on Friday.
Unfortunately that last day became longer than planned (as always…), so that we left the office not before 10pm. No 10 hours later – at 7 in the morning – we already boarded the ferry. Though less recovered than expected, we still managed to have a good time on Saturday with a full sightseeing program. Only the pub crawl madness at the end of the day (some would say “the main reason to visit Tallinn”) had to be shortened due to energy deficits. Still it was a very nice evening.
The next day started with delicious pancakes followed by an interesting walking tour. Being really lucky with the weather we even were able to wear shirts and sometimes had to search for shadowed spots! After lunch and a beer at the seaside, enjoying the great view over the bay, we already had to board the ferry to go back home.
All in all it was a great trip, highly recommendable! The only fly in the ointment (I hope people actually say this… I just looked it up) was that, coming home at 10pm, we were at least as exhausted as we’d been before.
A week and a day have passed by since I arrived here in Helsinki so it is time for a short summary:
It feels like yesterday that I stranded at the central station. Having relied on knowing the city from the last visit a year ago, I neglected doing research in advance on how to get to the hostel. Standing at the central station with nothing more in my hands than the hostel’s adress, I realized how foolish that was. [Note: I have made the very same mistake when I started my year abroad in Seville… And it feels like I have learned absolutely NOTHING from it!] Unfortunately there wasn’t even any info-point (opened) where people could have helped me. So I decided to drag myself and all my luggage to a well-known fast-food-restaurant, supposing to find WiFi there. I did. After a small research and imbiss I could finally head towards the hostel. After checking in, I spent the rest of the day with searching for flats and contacting countless landlords until heading to bed not too late at night.
In contrast to the arrival-failure, the next day was rather succesful. I found the office at first try and everyone was really kind. All in all I had a perfect first workday at ALA!
In the evening I planned to visit two flats, but after communication problems with the first landlord, I went directly to the second… Or at least I tried: I got lost on the way to the bus stop! [Note: I am not such a mess as it sounds like – I swear!]. But in spite of the fact that I arrived half an hour late, the couple renting the place still chose me as a renter. Which got me into even bigger trouble: The flat was way further from the city center than I planned to live, but on the other hand very beautiful. Besides I didn’t want to waste too much of the few time I have in Helsinki staying in the hostel searching for flats. All the evening I tried to decide. In the end I decided not to take it and called to say no, but somehow ended up saying yes. The same night I signed the contract and on Wednesday I moved in already. I am still getting cozy here, but overall I don’t regret my decision.
The rest of the week had its ups and downs, but ended perfectly with a beer at the seaside, together with the other ALA-interns. All in all it was an exciting first week and I can’t wait for the next adventures to come!
I had never thought, that this traveling-working-adventure would turn out this difficult to organize! In the end I actually sent 121 (!) applications before I finally got a work placement. But let’s start from the beginning:
In the end of March I started planning the trip. I wanted to start in a European country because this makes many things easier like the visa, health care and of course the arrival. My wish was to start in either the UK or in Scandinavia. As my plan is to go to and work on every continent, I decided to apply for 3-months-internships only, which is a rather short period in my profession. This, plus the fact that I applied very short-dated (the ideal was to start in June already) made it seem very difficult to find a placement. Anyway, I started optimistically.
The optimism slowly faded away when the number of unsuccesful applications increased, while the days counted on. At least when June, the aimed start of the travel project, passed by without any change of the situation, scepticism almost dominated. I was already thinking about cancelling the whole thing and to continue the master’s program at the uni instead.
This was when one of the first studios that I applied to – which left me hanging with a “Maybe” since April – finally made up their mind and accepted me! I am very happy to say that I will start an internship at ALA Architects in Helsinki in August. It is a very innovative studio, focused on public buildings, which I was lucky to visit on a university excursion to Finland in 2015.
In this sense: Helsinki, täältä tullaan!
The original Walz was linked with strict rules. In this postmodern new interpretation of it, I reformulate these to my very personal guidelines:
3 years and 1 day
The minimum duration of the Walz was often two, but most often three years and one day. I don’t prescribe myself a minimum duration, but also strive for a time of two to three years. The exact duration will depend on the experiences, that I will gain, and the motivations, that will be driving me.
Distance to the Hometown
No travel destinations were prescribed at the Walz, but over the whole time it was forbidden to get closer to the hometown than 50km. I do not set myself this prohibition, but plan to gain the distance by traveling further. My goal is to visit at least one location on every continent.
At the Walz, every journeyman started with 5 Mark and had to return with the exact same amount of money. Today, under the changed circumstances, this extrema seems impossible. Nevertheless, I want to make the experience to live of my own professional work based on my studies, and therefore hope for a fair salary.
For centuries, craft has been connected with travelling: In the middle ages, seeking for work made craftsmen move from town to town. Guilds took up the heritage and prescribed apprentices a perennial journey – in Germany called “Walz” – after the completion of the formation. In this way, foreign places and cultures could be studied, experiences could be gained and new working techniques could be interchanged. The builder stood in this tradition as well. Until today, it is possible to read out of the magnificent gothic cathedrals on which ways styles and engineering achievements were carried around the world by travelling builders.
With the industrialization, craft was pushed aside by mass production in large parts. But craft is valuable! Through experience and expert knowledge, it accomplishes the unique connection of the technology with aesthetics. Its precision and perfection are guaranteeing continuous innovation.
These qualities apply in the same way to architecture and show without any doubts, where architects are rooted.
Simultaneously also the tradition of the journeyman years almost got lost. Today, sound and vision can be transmitted to world’s end in real-time while the collected knowledge of humanity is available anytime from any place. Therefore, a journey doesn’t seem to be necessary anymore. But right now, in this highly globalized world, it is as necessary as never before. If architects want to work worldwide, they have to understand the differences between the cultures! Moreover, innovation doesn’t take place in single strongholds nowadays, but everywhere.
Reflecting on all of this, in the end of my undergraduate studies in architecture, I took the decision to continue the tradition and go on a “Walz” as an architect!
Continue reading the GUIDELINES that I set myself.