The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Great Designs in Wood (36) - The Kamppi Chapel of Silence
When it comes to unusual, and creative, uses of wood, you have to hand it to the Finns. It seems that their culture causes their mental juices to flow naturally to wood as a first solution for just about everything you can think of...and some that you never would. Such as a chapel of...silence. That's right, the good citizens of Helsinki constructed an edifice of wood which has silence as its primary function. You go in, sit, or walk around, look at the wood, and...look at the wood.

In this case, you'd be looking at glue-laminated spruce from the hinterlands of Finland.

"The most prominent space of the building is a timber constructed 11.5 metres high sacral space. It creates a calm space, in which the lively surroundings seem distant: the defining elements include indirect light flowing down from above and the warm timber surfaces on the walls and fittings. The total area of the chapel building is 270 square metres housing the sacral space, an information lounge and spaces for one-to-one discussion.
Originally, the idea of an urban chapel came from the City of Helsinki. The client is the parish union of Helsinki. The parish unions of Espoo and Vantaa have participated in planning the future activities in the chapel."
- City of Helsinki

image © tuomas uusheimo
When I was in Helsinki, I didn't notice it to be an unusually loud fact, quite the opposite. No honking cars, police whistles, sirens in this pacific city. And yet, the Finns are thoughtful enough to build a shelter for those who just have to have SILENCE to think. Nice of them.

I know what I'd be thinking of...mental calculations of the number of lineal feet of timber used in the building. And looking for knots. And wondering what the place cost. I know, typical American.

On second thought, I don't think the idea is that original, anyway. I think they got it from watching classic old American TV re-runs. The original "Cone of Silence"...

Thanks to Jayo in Idaho for another Great Design in wood.

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