"Sami Rintala (born 1969) is an architect and an artist, with a long merit list after finishing his architect studies in Helsinki Finland 1999. He established architect office Casagrande & Rintala 1998, which produced a series of acknowledged architectural installations around the world during the next five years until 2003. These works combine architecture with critical thinking of society, nature and the real tasks of an architect, all within a cross-over art field using space, light, materials and human body as tools of expression."
"Rintala had his first wider recognition in 1999 with the project Land(e)scape: Three abandoned wooden barns were raised on 10 meter high legs to follow their farmers to the cities as a critical comment on the deserting process of the countryside. In Venice Biennale 2000 Sixty Minute Man was realized; A ship sailed to Arsenal with a garden inside. The park was planted on sixty minutes of human waste from the city of Venice, becoming together with the old boat a three dimensional collage of society waste commenting on the Biennale theme ‘ less aesthetics, more ethics’. In 2008, Rintala started a new architect office with Icelandic architect Dagur Eggertsson, called Rintala Eggertsson Architects. The office is based in Oslo, South Norway and Bodø, North Norway.
Important part of Rintala’s work is teaching and lecturing in various art and architecture universities. Sami Rintala’s work is based on narrative and conceptualism. Resulting work is a layered interpretation of the physical, mental and poetic resources of the site...".*
I contacted him for a short interview to ask him 7 questions, trying to capture the spiritual essence of his architecture, which is nowadays attracting a significant interest of Persian architecture students.
A symbolic/nostalgic taste or trend is recognizable in the spirit of your architecture/installation, especially in the early jobs, which is sometimes really radical (such as 1000 peace flags, sixty minute man, The Mill, etc) ; it is really tempting to understand your mental/spiritual background and expressional methods causing this way of creation.
I feel my work is a straight sum of all my life experience, and at least for myself it is therefore no expression of trend or style. I am trained as an architect, but then one has a kind of authentic material bank from childhood, and what in my humble case could be worth to mention, background as working on construction sites and as a teacher. The projects now are based on some simple architectural theoretic theme, solved practically with a team of workers who usually are my friends, and linked to teaching in architecture schools.
The works perhaps then try to offer an atmosphere that is based on the authentic material and memories, worked into an abstract level so that it is no longer any personal issue or statement.
I hope there is not so much nostalgy in my work, I have no longing
for any historic time or place, but would rather find the meaning and beauty out of everyday situations.
It is not hard to follow the influences of eastern (near and far east)metaphysics/philosophy basis; are they the effects which follow necessarily from their causes? In other hand, what is the link between a creator from northern Europe and a broad sacred eastern way of think/life? For example the symbolic elements of earth, air, water and fire in the Element House (like the theatrical concepts of Nader Khalili) easily reminds the Persian ideology of elements.
To refer to the previous answer, there is no direct preference of any geographical or philosophical basis in my work. I am more interested in observing the world as it really is.
You could, to simple, name all the nature before human activity World no.1, and then our human articulated reality World no.2.
The basic problem in my mind arises when we design and produce things that are only commenting on and based on the World no.2, so the one that is full of agreements and symbols and concepts made by ourselves.
It is necessary to see the situation as it is in real reality, before invented values, speculations and some kind of loud noise that tends to fill our interest. We should be sensitive enough to listen to some more quite, timeless sounds that tell of the character of the site, the task at hands.
Another thing is that there is in my opinion a great deal of focus and search of the truths and values of the World no.1 in some Eastern philosophies, and why not in the traditional wisdom of the North where I come from. But all and all, I believe that regardless of where we come, we share the basic communication level when it comes to the elementary understanding of material, light and space. This must be partly because of our similar childhood experiences with things like fire, rain, shelter, lanscapes etc. Then later in life, seeing things is enough to kind of mentally touch and feel them. We are very fine instruments of registering our surroundings, and architecture and art can be good and precise tools to express some qualities that are otherwise hard or impossible to describe with for instence, words.
It seems that you strongly believe in architecture as media/medium or language; with this perception let us know what you are going to say by it?
It is good to have a goal for one's activity, even if it seems hard or even impossible to reach. I believe architecture can help us in finding balance between man and nature, and without this balance there will be, in some unknown future, no human life. House is such a central factor in man's understanding of oneself and the universe, it is structuring tool like language is, but on an even more principal level where all senses work tightly together.
So, making houses is making sense in the broadest meaning.
Beside your environmentalist way of design, and your special methodology/strategy of relation with nature, since 2004, somehow, it is possible to find some new kind of design which is more similar to things generally/normally called architecture. Whether you agree or not, let us know about your recent definitive changes in the profession.
I have been able to do research and testing with these earlier projects, and now it becomes hopefully possilble to use this experience and learning into more functional tasks. For this reason we have also a new office called Rintala eggertsson Architects, a team of people that can together carry out larger and more complicated projetcs.
Another issue is that I have been teaching now for ten years in architecture schools, and will now with my new office for the first time concentrate full-time only in working, leaving teaching aside for awhile.
You have said somewhere that "the goal of a designer or artist is to use his or her sensibility to reveal and continuously awaken what has been hidden - the deep core of beauty in daily life." what you exactly mean by "deep core of beauty"? is it just a consideration of human being as a part of nature or a kind of domination and hegemony to the nature could support this "core"?
Human beings are part of nature, will we or not, and wheather we are
a malfunctioning part or cooperating.
The word Beauty is inflated and therefore not used much in describing
our design objects, because we want to be rational, scientific, precise and functional. But then again, beauty is the word that is un umbrella for concepts that make life continue, it allures living things to decide to develop, cooperate, create new. ( Greek word poiesis means creating new, by the way).
So, again, without beauty there will be no life. We need to create beauty with our design.
Do you consider yourself as a minimalist? Does simplicity could handle all of your concepts as the main leading principle? Or just let us know your main inspiration source.
I believe more in economy than minimalism as such.
Economy in work, material and expression.
The last question; what do you think about Persia (Iran)? What is your special massage for your Persian readers?
I have read of the history of Persia, and understand that Persian culture stands as the forerunner and inspirator of Greek culture, and therefore is the basis of all contemporary European culture.
I haven't unfortunately visited modern day Iran, and would be very interested to have a lecture or workshop there one day to learn of the situation.
At the moment the most prominent and easily accessible form of Persian
culture are the excellent Iranian films we see here.