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The New Finnish Institute in Newcastle 1

Part 1 Project 2004
Claire Harrop
Berina Alimajstorovic
Newcastle University, UK
The Finnish Institute in London exists to promote cultural exchange between Finland and the UK in the arts, humanities and social sciences. To widen its programme the project proposes a New Finnish Institute in Newcastle, a place with existing Baltic connections.

In the 1890’s when the Finns sought independence from Russia they ‘created’ the notion of ‘Finnishness’. Concurrent with the Institute’s ethos of exchange, the building does not seek to simply represent ‘Finnishness’. Rather it uses aspects of this, such as Finnish mythology and the natural landscape, to create a place for cultural interaction rooted in shared human experience.

Claire Harrop
Berina Alimajstorovic

Claire Harrop's New Finnish Institute is rooted in a deep insight into Finnish culture and heritage; its modernity and mythologies. Her Institute project resonates on many levels. She resolved the difficult deep site condition (rooted in a medieval burgage grain) with a penetrative routing to a poetic and mysterious core: at the heart of the Institute she placed a shell as a receptacle of cultural significance - evoking the generative egg of Kalevala epic.All routes pass through or around this mythical sculptural presence that - in the vertical plane - also connects earth and heaven. The centre-ing place of Finnish culture - the sauna - lies beneath. Claire demonstrates a richness of process in her design investigation that is at once rigorous and poetic, and a capacity to advance all levels of a design in harmonious totality.


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