Celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relations between Finland and India, the Embassy of Finland brings a photography exhibition ‘Re-thinking Modernism: Finland & India’.
The exhibition brings together Finnish and Indian photographers Jari Jetsonen and Randhir Singh.
Mr Jetsonen exhibits 24 pairs of photographs under the theme “Reflections Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto”. His series compare the iconic modernist architecture by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and the Swiss architect Le Corbusier – both considered as pioneers of Modernism.
The contribution by Mr Randhir Singh, entitled as ‘Snow speaks on the mountains’ depicts the architecture of the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi – a unique piece of Finnish modernist architecture designed in the 1960s by the Finnish architect couple Raili and Reima Pietilä. The photographs are part of a larger series by Mr Singh, looking at the architecture of Embassies built in New Delhi, exploring the relationship between national identity, architecture and Modernism.
A little background on the Embassy: The present-day Embassy compound of Finland in Chanakyapuri was inaugurated in 1986. The unique architecture of the compound was conceptualized in 1963 when the architects Raili and Reima Pietilä won Finland’s national competition for designing the Embassy.
“Snow speaks on the mountains” was the guiding title of the design by the Pietilä couple, snow being something that unites the wintry lakes of Finland and high Himalayas of India. The most significant architectural feature of the Embassy is the sculptural roofs that resemble the forms of the ridges surrounding Lake Kitkajärvi near Kuusamo, Northern Finland. The facade is clad in natural sandstone tiles according to local tradition, with white plastered bricks, white painted concrete and oiled teak used as additional materials.
The power couple behind the architecture Finnish nature is the key source of inspiration for the organic architecture of Raili (1926–) and Reima (1923–1993) Pietilä. The Pietiläs, sometimes called as the Finnish challengers of Modernism, have designed many well-known buildings in Finland, including Mäntyniemi, the official Residence of the President of Finland. In fact, Mäntyniemi and the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi do bear a resemblance to one another.
Between 2013–2018, the entire Embassy compound was renovated under the lead of the Finnish architect firm ALA Architects. The renovation was much needed due to harsh climate conditions in Delhi, which had taken their stock on the structures and the indoor air quality. Also other improvements and technical updates were already needed: improved working and living conditions and more sustainable energy systems were important goals in the renovation project.