Saturday, 12 December 2009

historical form over function

I often wonder just how dumb people can be and Kouvola (the place I live in here in Finland) gives me a prime example.

NOTE: since writing this blog I have found that it was not the fault of the Town Planner (or presumably the VR officals) that this debacle occured. it was the The National Board of Antiquities that demanded the railway station to be preserved as it was. The town archihtect was of a different opinion and stated that with modern materials it is possible to get functional solutions for the structures. Instead the blame rests with some nutcase at the National Board of Antiquities. Well fella, you should be sentenced to get your ass down here and stand at the THING every winter... till you decided to quit your job.

One of the "monuments" to the dead set ugly in Kouvola is the railway platform here.

Then one day I noticed they were starting to demolish it.


Finally I thought that they may put up a decent platform.

All during the summer I've been waiting for the (irregular) train at the Kouvola platform watching the demolition of the old platform and I thought often of photographing the demolition of this bloody ugly and bloody useless hunk of concrete.

Then, the demolition started to change ... all the roof had been destroyed and some of the pillars, but suddenly they were putting up new ones.

Oh my god, these idiots were rebuilding it! I shudder to think how many millions of Euros this debacle cost.

Not only is it an eyesore from a Stalinist Russian sort of bleak concrete architecture perspective, but its bloody impractical too.

What an immense waste of money this has been.

I'm told its due to some tossers suggesting that it needs to be kept as some sort of 'cultural heritage' .. for gods sake. Its a cultural step forward to remove it ... its not pretty nor has it ever been.

As a shelter this stupid piece of concrete provides nothing, in fact its worse than nothing.

As you can see here, there is absolutely no shelter underneath it. The pillars supporting the roof are perfectly circular, so when the cold biting winds blow in winter you can't even really shelter behind a pole. The wind just passes around it neatly.

Worse, the high wings of the roof actually channel the wind underneath, so even if there is the merest breeze elsewhere, it turns into about double that under the platform roof.

I've drawn some lines here to show the effect I'm talking about. The above image gives some illusion that shelter is afforeded by this structure, but thats only when there has been totally still weather conditions that the wetness does not penetrate all the way to the center. Normally its more like this...

The last thing you want here in winter is wind to make the cold worse, well this piece of magic architecture does just that. In Autumn its doubly worse as the increase in velocity of the air pulls in any rain, drizzle or sleet to well past the middle point ... typically here in Finland there isn't much wind .. heck people even leave candles outside without glass covers and they don't get blown out.

So this is where people wait ... for the trains (which are often late) ... warm hospitable Finland. Reminds me of waiting for the train at Tikkurila (in Helsinki) on the station for a train with no shelter at -20 with the wind blowing and the station locked up.

You know, this design might make sense in Australia where the hot sun is overhead, and the design would create some breeze ... but here the sun is never overhead, so even in summer it provides nothing.

In so many ways its a monument to the stark and unimaginative ugliness of this town.

Before I leave this I'll toss in a brief mention of the stairs down to the 'underpass' to get to the platform. They (as a result of the demolished section) now are not covered, so snow falls on them and makes them bloody dangerous.

Staff sprinkle gravel over them, but seriously it doesn't help much. Ohh ... notice that ramp for the handicapped? Its stainless steel ... don't reckon your wheel chair'd get much grip on that in winter.

HAH .. You'll never get up, but man the way down is a real adrenalin rush...

How ironic it is that Finland has won an award for being the capital of design in Europe ... where the hell do they hide it? Seriously folks, Finland may have a reputation as a wonderful nordic country, but that can only come from word of mouth of the locals (who probably compare it with Russia whom they hate or perhaps Italy?) cos after nearly 3 years here I'm not seeing it.

I've said it before, send some of the staff here to a place like Japan where they can learn organisation.

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