Craft and Kalavela combine to guard knowledge

Words:
Eleanor Young

Sonia Magdziarz thinks big with a scheme for protecting global knowledge to take the Silver Medal

Carving a folk story into the fabric of a city.
Carving a folk story into the fabric of a city.

Sonia Magdziarz

How to Carve a Giant

Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Tutors: Penelope Haralambidou; Michael Tite; Keiichi Matsuda


When Sonia Magdziarz visited Helsinki on a studio field trip, the 1969 Temppelioaukio Church, or Church of the Rock, impressed her deeply. This building, built into the city’s pink granite, proved an inspiration for her silver medal winning How to Carve a Giant.

Facing out of the church is that giant, a figure from Finland’s national foundation myth, the Kalavela; as he sleeps he protects knowledge. The giant is not the only figure from this myth who makes it into the building, there are also fox, bear and blacksmith. As with Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library, bodies are inscribed into the design. Here a fox becomes a metaphor for light, following the story of how the Northern Lights were created by the swish of a fox’s tail. So rooflights have echoes and suggestions of fox.

The miracles of hidden knowledge are extrapolated into a remarkable fly’s leg stair

Enhancing hand carving with digital tools and processes. The hybrid model explores different types of 3D printing, milling and carving, resulting in a two-dimensional image translated into a three-dimensional surface.
Enhancing hand carving with digital tools and processes. The hybrid model explores different types of 3D printing, milling and carving, resulting in a two-dimensional image translated into a three-dimensional surface.

Magdziarz proposes to keep safe the knowledge of our time and the future in vaults carved deep into the granite. That might be in books, encrypted into DNA or carved at a nano-scale (her investigations found that ­nano-carving now claims to be able to cram the whole of the world’s knowledge into the space of a shoe box). The miracles of hidden knowledge are extrapolated into a remarkable fly’s leg stair that is a reminder of the micro­scopic writ large. The architecture acts as a sign for the invisible knowledge within.

The technologies will change over the years, as will the more public spaces, evolving from libraries to freer spaces with digital displays. This is embodied in Magdziarz’s film that shows the spaces over time. Central to her architecture is a desire to draw people back to the space to understand and decode knowledge from the past, in the same way that the pyramids pull us in.


SILVER MEDAL COMMENDATIONS
Sam Coulton

London Physic Gardens: A New Necropolis 
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Kevin Herhusky
Infrastructures of Memory, 
Phygital Bodies in a Concrete Cloud 
California Polytechnic State University, USA 
Ruth McNickle
Tilling the Prado: A Furrow of Re-Construction 
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

SERJEANT Award for excellence in drawing
Maria Marilia Lezou

Hotel Mollino: Staging Spaces of the Everyday as Heterotopias of Performance in Scenography and Architecture 
University of Greenwich

SOM Foundation fellowship UK part 2
Margaret Ndungu

Wild City 
De Montfort University

Judges, Silver Medal
Chair: David Gloster, RIBA director of education
Nicky Watson, RIBA vice president education
Professor Yeoryia Manolopoulou, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Eva Franch i Gilabert, director of the Architectural Association
Carol Patterson, OMA

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