Tag Archives: Architecture

In Helsinki, Old and New Stand Side-by-Side

By the way, I’m smoking a Vegas Robaino double corona, my favorite cigar of all time.


It Deosn’t Take Long When You’re with Me

I’ve been on the ground in Helsinki for only around four hours [when this was handwritten, transcribing now], and already, I’ve had adventures. The problem, though, is that I still have Reykjavik stuff to cover. Also, Laura took the camera to the party she’s attending tonight, so I’ve been stuck using my Blackberry to take pictures. Real photography nuts would say I suck either way.

First, let me finish (or, Finnish, hahahaha) my thoughts on Reykjavik. The architecture is, quite simply, schizophrenic. Since wood has to be imported, few houses use it. Aluminum and concrete are more common. Many of the wooden houses, I’m told, are prefabs shipped to Iceland from Norway. But, the choice of building materials is not the source of my beef. Hell, do what you gotta do. My quarrel is wiht style.

Reykjavik is a fairly new city, going back only a century as a real city (likewise Iceland as an independent country). That’s not much, even by American standards. Think of it this way, Massachusetts is four times older than Iceland. But, like Massachusetts, Iceland was settled long before it shook of the shackles of European oppression. Reykjavik became a settlement, of sorts, in 1760.

Note to students: If you are using my blog entry as a source for a paper or homework assignment on Iceland, you are an idiot and deserve to fail. This is all hearsay.

Over the past 300ish years, Iceland has done its best to become an architectural fuck-up, wiht most of the damage coming in the 1970s (like most cultural damage worldwide). As a result, you see cool-looking old buildings shoulder-to-shoulder with “home of the future” cartoon rejects. The city feels like it has lost its mind … looks that way, too.

The good news is that the old Reykjavik houses were not destroyed to make room for those new monstrosities. They were picked up and moved outside the city. So, if the town recovers its soul, it can fix the mistake.