Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pyykkikallio, Käpyllä, Tampere

I visited this space twice, a few weeks apart. Read about my unfruitful visit here. Fortunately the following week (on 19 September 2016) I was given the details of a local, Pasi, who was willing to show me around the neighbourhood with the eyes and insight of a resident. 
Pasi had a copy of this book which sadly I cannot find on either eBay or Abebooks. I'm going to mention it in the text here - Käpylä by Matti Wacklin - just in case anyone wants to sell me a copy (for not much money, if that's OK). What I'd do with it is another question, particularly since obviously it's in Finnish, a language I am not that au fait with.
What it does have, however, is this plan from I think 1911 which shows the origin of the space I'm interested in:
'Lapinesikaupunki' means 'Lapin suburb' (so says Google maps). There seems to be a handwritten text on the plan with a word which is either 'Heloninen' or (more likely) 'Helminen', but google translate doesn't have anything to contribute on either of these possibilities. What interests me more is that both this space and the Lapinpuisto (Lapin park) are kind of vague 'open spaces' without real borders.
Entering the space, we encounter one of Pasi's neighbours, Tallu, who tells us that the park is known locally as 'Pyykkikallio' or 'laundry rock'. The derivation of this is that the rock used to be (well, arguably still is) a great place to dry one's laundry, being a high point on the estate and useful on a windy day. 

Tallu and her husband preside over the entry to the space (not, I should add, either of the entry points designated on the 1911 plan) and she, Pasi and others in the area have informally maintained it (Tallu: 'it was a jungle when we moved here twenty years ago'). For instance, when Pasi did some building on his land (over the road) the dirt was used to (for want of a better word) soften the space around the rock and make it more child-friendly. This small structure was a remainder from neighbours who were downsizing once their children had left home, and they installed it on the rock as a playhouse.

Both Pasi and Tallu are adamant that the space, used almost exclusively by children, is a safe and secure environment, overlooked as it is by surrounding houses. Pasi was also very keen, in discussions about Käpyllä generally, to reinforce its community and neighbourhood qualities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Annikinkatu, Tampere, Finland

Another Finnish posts which I concede is out of sequence with the French ones (this visit took place on 21 September 2016) for irrelevant technical reasons (I had to clear some space on my computer to download the pictures). These are of a block in Annikinkatu, Tampere which has many formal similarities to the Museum of Worker Housing, around two and a half kilometres west, the difference being these homes are lived in and apparently highly valued.

The story I gather is that while almost all of these block courts were demolished and replaced with high-rise in the 1960s-70s, this one block remained longer than all others (aside from the Worker Housing museum) and while the owners of adjoining apartments expected this building would be demolished for parkland, its retention became a cause celebre locally and the block valued by bohemians. The block maintains a cultural presence in Tampere today not least through a locally famous poetry festival. The pictures below give a good indication of what the site is like today.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chemin-de-Ronde, Voisons-le-Bretonneux, Paris, France

A veritable petit point for the St Quentin area, Chemin-de-Ronde (it simply means 'walkway') is the only IR I know of to have its own dedicated bus stop (!) although admittedly this might relate as much to the housing around the park space as it does to the park space itself. 

The housing outside it has an air of a mediaeval village. The Chemin-de-Ronde IR is an exercise in formality and regularity rarely seen in IR-dom. Each corner and half-way through each side, there is an entrance (I believe the north-west corner entrance might be blocked off; I wasn't going to run the risk of trespassing into someone's garden to find out). There are benches placed diagonally at each corner. As you can see below, there are rustic metal arches on the inner passageways mid-way at each boundary, and a formal entranceway on the outer. There are trees around the edge and some variation of fencing at the rear of property boundaries. Within all this, a huge, featureless and well-maintained open space. 
 The external passageway entrance midway from the east.
 The internal passageway entrance midway from the east.

 The entranceway, externally, from the north.
 Yes. A bus stop.

Villa Hortense, Voisons-le-Brettonneux, Paris, France

This continues the visit to various reserves in the St-Quentin-des-Yvelines new town area from Saturday 24 September 2016. Here your humble reporter got a bit bogged down in his possibly foolish dependence on his phone for directions/locations, as 'Villa Hortense' didn't show up in the directory and the system was very keen for me to get in a car (or spend four days walking) to the actual Montigny. However, by random accident, I did manage to stumble on Villa Hortense (I didn't actually realise this until locating the space depicted below, 18 hours later, on google maps!).

Some of the IRs in this region have a certain formal resemblance to 17th century French estate gardens - some of which have been redesigned as public parks and gardens. In this case, the space is a long, elegant, resilient and simple park, with seating, lighting, and gate (low or high) entrances into back gardens. 

As in many other similar spaces in this area, there is a kind of formality to entrances, either incorporated into standalone archways or in simple archway structures probably intended to guide foliage.

One tiny detail which struck me, and which I annoyed I will probably never know the reason for, is the unevenness of the through-path known as Allée Noémie. As you can see, it doesn't quite line up.  

I followed Allée Noémie westwards, a narrow (pedestrian - or at a pinch, cyclist- only) laneway through a few blocks:
These crossway north-south lanes intrigued me, mainly the fact that they opened out for some short distance before the crossing with Noémie. There must be a rationale for this (but what!?).

The west exit of Allée Noémie:
It opens into extensive parkland, the easternmost section of which is maintained lawn with some sporting facilities. A range of different groups of (mostly older) children and (aside from a woman pushing a pram) no adults in sight.