In this tantalizing work, Roger Connah explores the peculiar odyssey of twentieth-century architecture through the buildings and writings of Finlands iconoclastic architect, Reima Pietilä. Among architects, Pietilä is a cult figure, a respected but often misunderstood outsider and "arctic shaman," only recently granted the international acclaim and appreciation that are his due. Pietilä's complex, geomorphic structures have been compared to the work of Gaudi and Bruce Goff and variously labeled surrealistic, romantic, or expressionistic.
Writing Architecture positions Pietilä at the heart of contemporary architectural debates - the carnival of conflicting isms, modern post-modern, post-structuralist, deconstructive. From his relative isolation in Helsinki, he is thrust into the community of this century's most revolutionary artists and thinkers, including Wittgenstein, Einstein, Beckett, Borges, Magritte, and McLuhan. Through Pietilä Connah reflects on architecture's progress and excess in this century, tracing a path through multiple meanings and intellectual adventures.
More metaphysical inquiry than conventional monograph, this extraordinary study draws from various sources to "read" architecture as Pietilä does, as a form of cultural composition in which all theory, literature, music, art, or natural phenomena are potential sources for architectural meaning. Like the existential detective in the pulp crime novels on Fantomas, the elegant French philosopher-thief, Connah offers fragmentary clues, contradictory solutions, and digressive speculations on the particular mystery, misery, and miracle that is modern architecture, but wisely leaves the final verdict up to his discerning readers.
Roger Connah's extensive collaboration with Reima Pietilä has provided him with a unique opportunity to trace the architect's inimitable approach to architecture and culture. Since 1986 the author has been living in India working as a freelance writer; he is visiting Professor at The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and The Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.