Houses of the Finnish Gods

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Modernist and contemporary Finnish architecture is usually understood in terms of the work of Alvar Aalto. The links to the Finnish vernacular tradition are overlooked, or at most limited to details, rather than seen as a significant informing element. Michael Garbutt’s research investigates the connection between the nineteenth century folkloric vernacular traditions to the modernist work of Aalto in Finnish architecture. It then reveals that this newly wrought historical connection has a relation to the postmodern and contemporary architecture of the Suomilainen’s ‘Rock Church’. The documentary investigates the ways modernist Finnish architecture emerges from its vernacular traditions. The 27-minute visual essay, Houses of the Finnish Gods, connects popular culture with mainstream European modernism and postmodernism. The work is innovative in so far as it uses a popular documentary format to reflect upon issues of national identity expressed through architecture. It combines broadcast documentary and visual essay genres to present a landmark in popular cultural criticism. The work also contributes new knowledge by revealing the historical relations between vernacular themes and historical movements such as modernism and postmodernism in Finnish architecture The work received a ‘highly commended’ in the Australian Cinematographers, 2003 awards. It has been broadcast with a number of repeat showings on ABC National Television and on cable Finnish television. It is cited in Pavelut’s review of international media dealing with Finnish matters.
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Garbutt, Michael David
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