"That house is modern but comfortable."
Translation:Tuo talo on moderni mutta mukava.
Finland has a very peculiar situation with architecture. In the 1960's and 1970's they needed to build an exceptional amount of houses really quickly. The houses were supposed to be temporary, so their looks very mostly ignored. (This has been said by Mauno Koivisto, who later became the president and had been responsible for the strategy of building temporary concrete houses)
But, those houses still stand. And at the same time, the Finnish architects are taught in architecture education that architecture "should not copy past ideas", and only the current architecture is allowed. The "current" architecture happens to be the "style" created in 1960's, over half a century ago for temporary reasons. It has been updated to become bearable to watch, but it still look really ugly. Even when building among houses that were all built in the same era – say, in 1920's – one is not allowed to design a house so that its architecture fits the style of the other houses around it. Instead, the 1960's style must be copied. It may be modernized, but that's the pre-existing style allowed.
If you don't happen to like the style derived from 1960's temporary housing, then any modern houses in Finland will look ugly to your eyes. It wasn't designed to look good, and it became the only allowed standard. This also means rather low room height, which is a major comfort factor.
If you look at Brussels, Stockholm, Tallinn, Madrid or Berlin, you see plenty of modern houses that fit the style of the houses around.
So, there are maaaany people in Finland who find modern houses uncomfortable and prefer to live in the few older houses that exist. Since Finland moved from countryside to cities so very late, those are very few, however.
Woah you seem to have a pretty negative, narrow and biased view on contemporary Finnish architecture. Note my deliberate use of contemporary instead of modern (since when talking about architecture it implies the modernism as a style), as you also write about houses built today.
You say that the architecture of the past 60 years is ugly, but that is only your view; please don't declare it like it's the only truth. Aesthetics is a matter of taste, and I can find plenty of examples from that time period that I find aesthetically very beautiful. Of course, not all, but that is never the case, is it?
You claim that we're stuck in the sixties, but it seems you'd rather have us stuck in the twenties maybe? It doesn't mean that we're stuck in the sixties, if the contemporary architecture takes what it can from that era. That is not everything the architecture today has in its making. Architectural styles evolve over time, and that is neither unwanted nor unnatural. Historically, this has always been the case. Often the change comes gradually, like natural evolution. New ideas are brought into the mix one at a time, mixing old and new to create something unique. Sometimes the change is more abrupt, like it is the case for modernism; the idea was to abandon the past historic styles that only repeated (often quite badly imo) older styles. But even that has its roots in history, for how could you really make something different from what was before if you wouldn't know what it was? I find that contemporary architecture is actually quite different from 60 years ago, if one actually looks at what is being built today.
As I studied architecture in university for a while, I can honestly say that your claims concerning the education are wrong. The history of architecture is taught pretty thoroughly during the studies all the way from the antique, and it's not so you'd be better able to avoid copying past ideas, as you say. It's so that you'd be able to understand what, how and why something was built at certain times and something else at other times, and learn what you can take from history and even which mistakes are better left unrepeated.
Besides, it seems a bit unfair to me to blame the architects for everything. Architecture doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is affected by everything that's going on in the world at the time as well as the history. Nowadays it's often money that matters, and ornamentation can be considered an extra expense one can do without. And even the skills of the builders are different from a hundred years ago. Good luck finding a carpenter or a mason skilled enough to add some stylistic jugend touches to your house, and I hope you have the means to pay an arm and a leg to them.
Most of the buildings built today (especially meant for housing) are built mostly from ready-made elements, which can be smaller or larger; concrete bricks, window elements, entire wall elements, and all the way up to entire houses that are just brought to the place. This is very different to how houses were built a hundred years ago. It's cheaper and more efficient, but you can't expect that much variety from arranging readymade walls into different compositions.
But oh dear... Maybe this language forum isn't the best place for this debate, we'll scare all the innocent Finnish learners away... Peace and out.
Yup, your explanation there shows precisely the problem I was talking about.
Outside Finland, they are able to take influence form different styles as needed. Just look at the nice modern houses near the north station of Brussels, for example.
They indeed made the decision to move from copying old styles to something new. And now that style is what is being copied, although it's already getting close to being a century old invention. It is no longer reasonably more contemporary than art deco, for example. In Finland it's seen that one one has to choose between being stuck at 1960's and being stuck at 1920's. This has to do with the Finnish culture, which then again is very much influenced by the Finnish language and its grammar. There are clear rules that should be followed. The rules can be arbitrary, but they exist and if you learn and follow them, things will be fine. This is a cornerstone of the Finnish grammar, and it's a cornerstone of the Finnish culture. And it's the cornerstore of Finnish architecture as well. Do one thing and do it well.
I happen to be unlucky enough that to my eyes the contemporary Finnish architecture is monotonous and boring. Not everybody has the same taste as I do.
Everywhere in Europe the buildings are built from ready-made elements. But outside our country, those elements are used in creative manners that help them merge with the surrounding buildings. In Finland this is often seen as "dishonesty". That the house is "trying to be something it isn't". The idea is that if a house isn't built of bricks, it shouldn't have a facade typical to houses built of bricks, if I understand it correctly.
Mind you, I didn't claim that my opinion is the only truth. I did mention that there are many people who share my view. This was meant to imply that there also are many people who don't.
For me, and for the majority of my friends, the phrase "That house is modern but comfortable." makes perfect sense. Of course, everyone lives in their own social bubble, and this might be reality only in my bubble. But in my social bubble, at least, the typical contemporary architecture is not considered comfortable or beautiful. There are good example as well (such as Oodi! <3 ), but those are always very special buildings, whereas in other countries also normal houses with normal people living in them can look something else than some one and only standard.
I would claim that this conversation fits a language forum reasonably well, because these ideas you're telling above are a Finnish peculiarity and therefore a fascinating piece of Finnish culture. I might be expressing myself quite negatively here, because the situation really frustrates me. I've been living in several other countries and those other countries have it very differently compared to us here. There are people who enjoy the way contemporary Finnish architecture goes. I would also like those houses if they weren't the only alternative. The style happens to be such that it doesn't enable too wide a range of variation. (Compare to how much variety for example art deco – which is indeed my favourite architectonal style – allows for, and you'll get my point)
Language and culture go hand in hand, and the Finnish architecture is indeed a part of the Finnish culture. Both in good and in bad.
Oh my, I'm not gonna get into this again...
I'm just gonna link a nice article about the issues we're talking about, with views from both sides. It's on the building company YIT's site, but I found it pretty interesting even so: https://www.yit.fi/ytimessa/nykyarkkitehtuurin-edut
I think it's interesting to note that some features, like glazed balconies or big windows, that people often associate nowadays with comfortable living, are imcompatible with (for example) jugend facades. Also the fact that Finnish city and town planning is pretty strict about how the buildings should look like is a political factor, not the fault of architects. I don't know about the examples in Brussels you mentioned, but I'm sure that bulk building of similar house boxes isn't only a Finnish thing. It's just that when traveling, one notices the extraordinary that is different from what one is used to, while at home the "grey monotone” might feel like the prominent landscape. The examples from history that we admire are often the best of the best, the most special, and built for the rich, that are left, while the normal everyday buildings (that have existed always) are left to be forgotten and eventually taken down.
You still talk about copying the sixties, but I don't view it as such. Even if contemporary architecture has some elements that remind you of the sixties, that doesn't make it copying. Besides, since the sixties, there have been clearly recognizable architectural styles, like postmodernism and wow-architecture, that are all part of the roots that make contemporary architecture.
I know you didn't outright claim that your opinion is the only truth, and I'm sorry that I understood it so. But you didn't bring forth any contrary opinions either in your writing, even though they do exist. The social bubbles you talked about sometimes make us think that we know how the world is, or what "the citizens' opinion" is, even though it's only the opinion of the like-minded. So I actually want to thank you for this discussion, since I think it's good to get in touch with different opinions to broaden one's mind and to challenge one's own opinion.
If your favourite style in architecture is art deco, well, maybe Finland is the wrong country for you. We don't have many examples of that style, and it's viewed more as an industrial art and interior design style in Finland. Jugend or Art Nouveau was more prominent in Finnish architecture, and even that style was greatly disliked by a lot of the contemporaries for being so revolutionary at the time, even though now it's admired quite widely. I wonder, if you had lived at that time, would you have liked it, or maybe pined after the Renaissance? Impossible to know, of course. You also mentioned the lack of variation, but how could a style be recognized as a style if it is too varied? Jugend is clearly recognizable for its features, instead of being all over the place. Yet you criticize the architecture of today for the same thing. I think styles are often properly recognized and (re)valued only afterwards, when they have become a part of the history.
... I got into it again, didn't I?... I'm just gonna leave you with a few links to recent Finnish housing architecture, that I find are pretty varied examples of what has been built recently: https://fi.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kartanonkoski , https://www.ark.fi/fi/2020/02/tikkuaskitalot/ , https://www.ark.fi/fi/2020/01/toritalo/ , https://www.ark.fi/fi/2018/02/lorenzinpuisto/ , https://www.sweco.fi/palvelumme/arkkitehtuuri-ja-yhdyskuntasuunnittelu/asuminen/sornaistenranta/ , https://www.skanska.fi/palvelut/referenssiprojektimme/163387/Arabianranta-Helsinki
Of course, it would be easier to look for examples of public buildings, since they are (today just as historically), projects that are more in the public eye and sometimes maybe also designed and funded more thoughtfully. Nevertheless, I wanted to show examples of houses built recently that have normal people living in them.
Haha, yes, this is not a language issue but maybe more something about the opinions or experiences of the person writing the sentence. Maybe modern houses are seen as minimalist and somehow "bare"?
Or, more likely: They just really needed a sentence to practice those two adjectives? X-)
I'd say "nyky-" is more like "now" than "modern/new", and "nyt" actually means "now". Worth noting: "nykyään" means "nowadays". So "nykyaikainen" means "contemporary" as well as "modern", and especially when talking about architecture, as this particular sentence is, it might be wise to separate the two, since moderni/modern implies modernism as a style (in history already), while nykyaikainen/contemporary just means architecture built today. But you can also use modern to speak of contemporary, it's just that there's a slight possibility of misunderstandings.
Ah, I got the meaning "modern/neo" from Wiktionary.
It translates nykyenglanti as "Modern English", nykyihminen as "the modern human", nykykieli as "modern language", nykykirjallisuus as "modern literature", nykymaailma as "the modern world".
However, it also translates nykymusiikki as "contemporary music", nykytaide as "contemporary art", nykynäkymä as "current perspective", and nykypäivä as "the present day".
If these are translated optimally, it would follow that nyky- can function as English "modern", "contemporary", "current", and "present".
I don't think "now" is quite the right English word, since it's an adverb. But its equivalent adjective, "current" or "present", seems to work very well.
I agree there can be a difference between contemporary, modernist, and modern. I think Debussy's music, at the turn of the 20th century, was modernist. In 2008, music colleges considered contemporary music to refer to some styles of music written as far back as mid 20th century. Other people use "contemporary" to mean "modern/of our current time".
So I'm curious, would Finnish nykymusiikki refer to modern, current music of today, or the modernist/contemporary music of the 20th century?
I guess I'm asking how moderni and nykyaikainen map to English "modern", "contemporary", "modernist", and "post-modernist".
Sometimes "modern art" means "post-modern art", but the vast majority of the time, "modern" just means "current/of today/up-to-date". "Contemporary" can mean "current/of the time of those people", or refer to a particular historical period. "Modernist" refers to historical styles that I believe predate "post-modernism".
Thanks, "current", "present" and so on are obviously much better translations for "nyky-" than my earlier suggestion ("now"). My only excuse is that I was in a bit of a hurry and didn't think it through properly...
Anyway, it's all a bit messy in Finnish as well as in English with these terms. I'm thinking it relates to the decision to call a style of a certain era modern(ism), while it was still the hottest thing, and at the same time sort of stealing this word, which actually means contemporary or new, from later eras. Now that word has a lot more baggage to deal with, and it should be used with caution especially when talking about arts and such.
At least for me (as a native Finn) "nykyaikainen" is a lot better term for current or contemporary, as in something that's being done nowadays, since "moderni" is such an obvious loan word and very similar to "modernismi" (the historical style), so as I said before, there's baggage... According to Tieteen termipankki (The Helsinki Term Bank for Arts and Sciences, https://tieteentermipankki.fi/wiki/Historia:moderni ) the same word "moderni" as a noun means the time between the early modern period (uusi aika) and postmodern, and it's also linked with modernization. So that, too, points to father behind in the past than "nykyaika", which just means the current era or present time.
It can, but it typically is not. Very commonly, contemporary houses (basically anything built after 1960 or so) have their ceilings much lower than was usual before those times. The windowsills are smaller so that you cannot sit on them, the doors and such are less decorated.
The outside walls don't have any details, so the house makes for a very dull scenery when walking along the streets. The stairwells tend to be made from cheapest materials without paying as much attention to aesthetics as was common in the past.