Arts & Crafts

Arts & Crafts skills are one of the bases of arkhi [αρχι- (archi-)] and tekton [τεκτων (tekton)], a.k.a. architecture. The three principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas (firmness, commodity and delight, or durability, utility and beauty) arise from an architect’s wide skill-set of envisioning, planning and design, as well as from craftsmanship and arts. Sense of beauty is one of the most holistic skills in the architect’s mental portfolio.

Architect as a crafsman has much more possibilities to give form when the sketched thin line has a meaning in structure and material. The sketch is a dynamic metastructure including form, space, order, resources, time and place, so to say: blood, sweat and tears (of joy). When the architect has αρχι-level skills (archi, highest standard) in form-giving, she can begin to create beauty.

Luckily architects, designers and craftsmen have had the craftsman’s Arts & Crafts movement since the school of Bauhaus. Most of the present architecture, design and arts schools follow the Bauhaus culture in their curricula.

Tekton in its modern meaning, includes besides craftsman’s skills, also technological skills. Those skills are structural, systemic, process intensive, resource related and timely bound. Technology has always human dimensions, like its fit for human usage, man-machine relation, sustainability, maintenance, management and leadership. To gain all needed tekton skills the architect needs a modernized and upgraded architect’s education. The new era architects’ school could be Bauhaus 2.0 and the outcome architect 2.0.

When the architect is is a craftsman, desinger and visionary, she can create structures and details which beautify the space or artefact (ornare in its fundamental meaning, not in Adolf Loos’s “Ornament is a crime). The verb ornare has unfortunately alienated from its original meaning of create beauty to prettification, an extra layer of decoration and pretty things on top of object, buildings and artefacts. But, when the architect is skilled and visionary in designing and crafting structures and details, the meaning of ornare is deepend back to its origins. Now the simplified architectural movement of rectangulars, simplest prismatoids (cubes, vedges) and industrially manufactured and processed BIM products (boards, sheets, slabs, plates) would get new forms and order like e.g. Ledoux, Le Corbusier, Aalto and Gaudi created, and e.g. Calatrava, Piano and Foster are today creating.

New architecture is born when visionary architects with craftsmanship and systemic understanding of a level of αρχι and τεκτων, archi and tekton, begin to humanize the building industry. One or ten architecture schools of a total of 1178 architecture schools globally should start the Bauhaus 2.0 and architect 2.0 approach. Most of the schools educate the simplest BIM curricula. Or thinking other the other way round: let the quality of built environment judge the quality of architecture schools.

As a compensation to the reality of building quality architects have created two survaival strategies: WOW architecture and architectural competitions. These survival strategies are available only for 0,03 % of architects. This number comes from Guggenheim Helsinki architectural competition, where from 1715 only one got the possibility to be built. It means, that 99, 97 % failed. The hero strategy of architects is not sustainable.

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Vitruvius says about the architect’s craftsmanship in the book De Architectura in chapter “On the training of Architects“:

  • “The science of the architect depends upon many disciplines and various apprenticeships which are carried out in other arts. His personal service consists in craftsmanship and technology. Craftsmanship is continued and familiar practice, which is carried out by the hands in such material as is necessary for the purpose of a design. Technology sets forth and explains things wrought in accordance with technical skill and method.

Craftsmanship combined with visionary and systemic thinking has an ever important meaning in developing architecture.

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Risku as a practicing craftsman

Mr. Juhani Risku applies the Gaudi way of working in his architect’s and acoustician’s work. It means, that he has his architect’s office on the building site, he participates in all practical constructing and handicraft of the building.

Being one craftsman in the builders’ team ensure trust and direct communication to improve quality during the process. Drawings, yes they are an important base for the building, but the on-site construction process as an iterative flow allow immediate changes and improvements in details and sometimes in larger solutions.

Working in the builders’ team also allows to put more emphasis on artistic details, refined forms, sophisticated use of materials and ennobled structures. But, an unskilled architect standing beside the craftsmen would be annoying for the professionals, for the industry and for the user and citizen. Therefore the Gaudi process is possible only for an architect with craftsman’s skills and proven track record.

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Photos: Pictures from buildings wher Mr. Risku was an on-site craftsman and apprentice of stonecutting, stained glass work, timberwork, carpentry, cabinet making, ceramics and metal work.

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Wood joinery and cabinet making

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Drawing: Wooden altar – from idea to sketch to model and realisation, Stone Chapel, Vivamo, Lohja Finland 1995-2025, architect and cabinet maker’s apprentice Juhani Risku. Mr. Marko Escartin as the master cabinet maker.

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Drawing: Wooden altar – Mr. Marko Escartin as cabinet maker, Stone Chapel, Vivamo, Lohja Finland 1995-2025, architect and cabinet maker’s apprentice Juhani Risku. Mr. Marko Escartin as the master cabinet maker.

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Photo and drawings: Music chair, design Juhani Risku, cabinet maker Anne Kumpulainen, 2003.

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Stained glass: Tiffany and lead came work

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Drawings and photos: Small stained glass windows , Stone Chapel, Vivamo, Lohja Finland 1995-2025, architect and glass craftsman’s apprentice Juhani Risku. Master stained glass craftsman Mr. Arto Orre.

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Picture 1. Main window, stained glass (lead came and Tiffany). Design Juhani Risku, realisation Mr. Arto Orre. More details about Stone Chapel stained glass project PDF.

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Carpentry and bent wood structures

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Stone cutting and stone as bearing structure

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Stone Chapel Vivamo and Högfors Ironworks. Photos from left 1, 2, 3.

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Metal work and cast iron structures

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Concrete and high-strength fiber concrete structures

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Clay and ceramics