The lines between environmental art and architecture are becoming increasingly blurred, and Finnish firm Arkkitehdit Casagrande’s two consecutive exhibitions, running parallel to the Venice Biennale, showcased that creative architectural solutions can add value on multiple levels for the community at large.
TEXT: JO IIVONEN | PHOTOS : ARKKITEHDIT CASAGRANDE
“We’ve had an interesting year,” says founder Caterina Casagrande. “After exhibiting in Venice during the architecture biennale of 2018, the organisers got back in touch to see if we’d like to participate at the Venice International Art Fair 2019.”
The Finnish firm’s expertise in functional designs that don’t skimp on the aesthetics was featured as an example of architecture that also serves another purpose. “There’s a growing trend whereby municipal building regulations require for art to be a part of the package,” Casagrande explains. “As architects, we have the technical knowhow to get this done.”
The trend is particularly evident in technical buildings that have traditionally been a bit of an eyesore in many towns. “They’re often not particularly pleasing to the eye, yet they serve an important purpose, and with relatively small investments on the facade, we are able to change the feel of the overall setting.”
One of the firm’s projects is a forest-themed transformer building in Parainen. The facade was created by using a sandwich panel featuring photographic imagery of nearby woodlands. “The building still serves its duty, but the sandwich panels make it blend into the surrounding nature,” Casagrande explains.
Other facade design options include graphic concrete and perforated metal, both of which were used to transform the feel of a parking hall in Turku. “By adding these layers,” she says, “we were able to completely change the feel of a building that ultimately serves a utilitarian purpose.”
Many of the designs are done in-house, but the firm has also collaborated with Finnish artist Jani Rättyä. On display in Venice during the architecture biennale were two housing projects for the disabled as well as a children’s home, two of them featuring artwork by Rättyä.
By deploying innovative technical solutions for facade design, Arkkitehdit Casagrande is at the forefront of a broader trend towards urban settings that serve the community on multiple levels. “Functionality is the foundation, but well-thought-out facade design can really add value, too,” Casagrande ends.