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There is a certain kind of architectural experience, one of frustrated tourism. You make an awkward journey to an out-of-the-way building and then find yourself peering over a wall, furtively opening a rusty gate or waiting for someone to come in so you can tailgate them into a hall. It is the exact opposite of the architectural monograph experience in which every image is composed and perfected - the result of prolonged exposure and full access. This monograph by the photographer Mikael Olsson is extraordinary, because it inhabits the former experience. The paradox makes for a curious and arresting book.
Swedish furniture designer Bruno Mathsson (1907-1988) built himself two houses in the early sixties: Södrakull, a Miesian, California-inflected glass and timber box, built in 1964-65; and Frösakull, a sparse summer house built in 1960.
Like a proto-Gehry, Mathsson built Frösakull using materials that were available: corrugated metal, plastic sheets, plywood, spindly timbers and old curtains. The designer grew old and died, the house deteriorated, and when his widow died in 1999 it was left empty.
A year later architect Thomas Sandell (of Sandell Sandberg) bought the house as a retreat for his staff. None of them, according to Helena Mathsson's essay in the book, "showed any particular interest". It was sold again, this time after Sandell had initiated a move to have it listed. It went at auction in 2006, sold not as a building but as part of a furniture sale.
The photos here are not so much a documentation - though they are that as well - but more an exploration of decay and the awkward relationship of modernism with imperfection.Read more ›
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