UK: I would like to ask you about the collaboration between IPOS, Folkhem and Martinsson. How did you realize that you would work with glulam (glued laminated timer)?
SF: To be completely honest, we realized that it was glulam we had to work with, because CLT (cross laminated timber) production was fully booked throughout the spring.
KL: The demand for CLT is already in top. And the demand for glulam decreased a bit. And
everything does not have to be CLT.
FB: As stated we have a great interest in working with a structural idea that is linked to a material. CLT is a sheet material, while our proposal Loggia d’Ombra consists of beams or columns. Then it made sense to work with glulam as it is suitable for beams or pillars. Also in contrast to the last biennial when there were a pavilion of CLT at Serra dei Giradini.
UK: I associate glulam with growing up in the 1980’s and come to various sports halls with exposed glulam structures. Is it correct?
FB: But maybe even older. In conjunction with the refurbishment of the Central Station in Stockholm in the 1920s, the central waiting area got trusses of glulam (the first major order of glulam from the newly established AB Fribärande Träkonstruktioner).
KL: The central station’s glulam was painted to look like metal.
UK: What made In Praise of Shadows taking on this project?
KL: When we were invited by you to develop the design for a pavilion at Serra dei Giardini, we said to ourselves – well, now we have said yes to such a project again. What should we investigate this time? But through experience of similar projects, we have found that it can be rewarded in the long run if you do something that you learn from and that can be further applied or investigated in another project. For example, we are always worried about the details of residential building. How can we get control over them and draw the details all the way? Then it is good to have a built reference of your own, to have a solution. That is the only way to get it done in complex processes of for example housing construction.
SF: For the architect to gain power over the construction process and to gain respect in the building and construction industry, knowledge is needed, and in these kinds of projects such as Loggia d’Ombra, you will have the opportunity to test and develop knowledge, which is the most important architectural community can do right now. Building industry is changing right now, and how the architect can take position, is actually really about gaining knowledge through experience. For example, gaining knowledge about how different materials actually work?
UK: That you, Folkhem as developer, work in close dialogue with the architect at such an early stage as the biennial is exciting.
SF: But we are not a regular developer. We have been working actively for several years to bridge between different cultures such as, for example, between the client and the architect. The cities we will build in the future, will we build together.
SF: It would be fun if the architect again stands for the entire project.
UK: When we started this project started linking all the offices with industry, we all thought it was very exciting. But when I started contacting the industry, it was not that easy. They did not have the techniques as we were asking for. They were in the midst building new manufacturing facilities which would be ready only next year. Or they had advanced CNC machines but not staff that could handle them. Instead, I had to contact the carpenters who had the techniques and were interested in the project.
KL: But it may show what the various actors are doing. Larger industries will deliver a raw building material, while the carpenters will refine the materials.
SF: Generally, across all industries, it may sometimes be that the industries have become too much industry, while in the small companies and carpenters there is a great interest. Therefore, we have been interested in working with small architectural offices where there is curiosity and will for exploration driven by development. I think this is really important.
UK: What is it that makes you want to come down to the Venice architecture biennale?
SF: We want to change the world. How can we do something about the climate issue? With wood as a renewable resource.
FB: For us, the project gave the opportunity to create a freespace in the office, an important internal process with an architectural task clear from too many constraints. It gave the possibility to do a small research project in the office.