like ants hiking up a great frozen layer of icing on the top of a cake

31Mar09

or like a herd of spindly elk wandering across the bering strait during migration…

or like a bunch of eager beaver architecture students on the quest for alvar aalto’s experimental summer house…

we trekked across a frozen lake in central finland last week.

an incredible expanse of flat, sparkling whiteness

in muuratsalo, an incredible expanse of flat, sparkling whiteness


we each soon figured out our individually preferred method of snow travel:

1. the sszwee! of sliding speedily+dangerously across icy patches,

2. the crample crample of crunching/trampling on softer, safer snow pockets, or

3. the chomp…plop, chomp…plop of standing elevated on top of several inches, and then (embarassingly) sinking down, two seconds after each step.

we climbed up to a small promontory where the house was supposedly perched — and at first, we didnt see it.  the outside-facing brick walls were painted white, which camouflaged very well with the surrounding winter landscape.  standing from inside the courtyard, these massive walls framed a perfect view of the lake.

summer view, winter view, lake view

summer view, winter view, lake view

and behind the house was the sauna*, quite the cornerstone of finnish culture.

hands down, it was the best surprise of the entire week.

more aalto delights + details

more aalto delights + nature-inspired details

auditorium on jyväskylä campus

auditorium on jyväskylä campus

look at the butterfly trusses [exaggerated, but beautiful] that hold up the ceiling of the city council chamber

look at the butterfly trusses exaggerated, but beautiful that hold up the ceiling of the city council chamber)

when you see leather-wrapped door handles inviting you in, you know it can't be anyone but aalto (säynätsalo town hall)

when you see leather-wrapped door handles inviting you in, you know it can't be anyone but aalto (säynätsalo town hall)

finnish octogenarians on cross country skis whizzed by

finnish octogenarians on cross country skis whizzed by us on the frozen lake

cattails and me

cattails and me

  • * sauna = sweat out every globule of moisture from your pores while baking the scorching heated room.  add more water onto the hot coals, producing copious amounts of steam.  when you can breathe no longer, take a deep breath and stampede out of the sauna, into the negative 10 degrees celsius outside air, down the icy neck-breaking flight of stairs, and plummet your battered body into the frigid lake.  repeat as many times as needed.
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4 Responses to “like ants hiking up a great frozen layer of icing on the top of a cake”

  1. 1 john

    “more aalto delights + nature-inspired detail”

    i like this one i want to hold onto the bars on the stairs and look out and pretend its the ocean

  2. 2 inmexico

    säynätsalo town hall! those butterfly trusses, the circulation around the courtyard! ah!!!! and the brick summer house too!

    the sauna sounds wonderful. i’m not sure i would be daring enough to plunge into that lake.

    by the way, i’m definitely going to veneto. are you still considering it?

  3. 3 David

    I love the way you write =D sszwee!

  4. aalto!!!!!!!!

    JEALOUS. Make the cutesy architectural-y-ness stop pretty please.

    Oh I’m going to be in Chicago this summer =)

    We need to have our own NY architecture-y date when you get back!

    Minus the snow of course but filled with Red Mango. Huggle.


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