Immediate plans to revitalise the Silo
The Silo offers an iconic space where Aalto’s legacy as the human face of modernism can be explored and seen in a new light - where sustainability, climate change and the mix between science and art have a role to play. The Silo’s location – just below the Arctic Circle – and proposed content can draw attention to the radical changes to the environment happening there that will affect us all.
The building is of mixed construction, made up of three ferro-concrete boxes covered by a lengthened eggshell roof with windows at the base and roof level. According to Francesca Piccolo (read: Identification and conservation in Alvar Aalto’s industrial sites: The case of Toppila Pulp Mill, 2017), in the summer 2016, the Silo was suffering mainly from water damage. Her proposed remedies were summarised as follows: cleaning the surfaces, restoring sections/sealing cracks, skim-coating and improving the waterproof qualities of materials. It is understood that some of these remedies have been carried out since her study of the building and its problems.
The next steps are:
• Assembly and organisation of existing information on the Silo, including structural surveys, historic drawings, photographs, scans and other related material (this is already underway and the filmmaker Tapio Snellman visited the site in September 2020 with drone as the first stage of making a documentary film about the Silo)
• Site visit (Charlotte Skene Catling and Adam Lowe; possibly also with Laura Heinonen and Otto Lowe, a member of the Skene Catling de la Peña team and structural engineer – the exact composition of the team for the site visit may be impacted by international Covid regulations)
• Meetings with interested local stakeholders, including Council Members, the Aalto Foundation and members of the local community
• An assessment of the immediate works required
• Preparation of base drawing files
• Preparation of a 3D model of the building and site
• Preparation of outline design and site layout with blocking models
• Preparation (with engineering team) of Schedule of Works for the first phase of construction to stabilise the condition of the building and to secure it from weather damage
• Organisation of incoming utilities (water, electrical, sewage/waste)
• Identification of a local building team
• Development of the detailed design of the Aalto Silo Centre for Digital Preservation, Oulu
• Preparation of construction programme and tender package
• The current aim is to commence construction in Summer 2023
• Construction-related activities will be carried out in parallel with the structuring of the AALTOSIILO Board
• Institution of the fundraising programme and related events.
Summary of the Proposed Uses
There is an opportunity to record both man-made and natural environments. Visualising the electromagnetic energy of the aurora borealis, rethinking the role and use of cellulose and lignum and monitoring marine pollution will go hand-in-hand with the recording of climate change and its impact on the natural environment.
It is proposed that the Aalto Silo Centre for Digital Preservation will be housed in, and adjacent to, Aalto’s Silo. It will focus on the problems of digital recording and processing in the climate of the northern of Finland. Industrial architectural and environmental preservation will sit alongside digital recording and creative ways to record our changing environment.
Some of the areas of investigation for the new Research Centre will include:
• Technology training and transfer
• The decline in the condition of industrial architecture (industrial buildings becoming the new attraction)
• The rise in the number of endangered plants in the Arctic Circle
• Investigating methods to document marine pollution
• Scanning and recording at low temperatures
• Recording the loss of permafrost and its impact on architecture
• Sound/sound waves/oral recording
• Providing tools and training to the Saami community