The Cloud Sketcher
Spanning a man's life, and the distance between a tiny village in Finland and dazzling 1920s New York, Richard Rayner's The Cloud Sketcher weaves the story of obsessive love through an epic tale of architecture, history and war.
While the vision of a skyscraper remains the dominant motif, it could be argued that the real beauty of the novel and Esko Vaananen's architecture can be found in the Finnish churches he builds while recovering from war. Simple and modern, the interiors alive with the interplay of light and shadow, their design is guided by a deep respect for the inner and outer lives of those who will use them. While the novel could be described as a page turner in terms of plot, remembering these churches and finding their echoes within Esko's later, more stunningly ambitious projects, keeps the novel from being merely that.
Un Amour de Jeunesse
Fifteen year old Camille is left almost inconsolably heartbroken when her lover leaves to go travelling, his letters inevitably dwindling to nothing. Time passes and Camille grows up, her interest in an old country house burgeoning into a vital passion for architecture, that also charts her self development. At first as solitary and monastic as the university campus that she designs in her early years as an architecture student, we later see that her character and her work have benefitted from both light and darkness, the 'glimmers' that her mentor - referencing Tadao Ando – advocates should be present in every building.
An understated, tender coming of age story that, while released in English under the title 'Goodbye, First Love', is not really about endings.
If Un Amour de Jeunesse whets your appetite for more architecture on film, don't miss the Barbican's screening of Kogonada's Columbus on May 24th. Critically acclaimed at Sundance 2017, the film follows Casey and Jin as they gently meander their way to a greater understanding of themselves, each other, and the modernist architecture that is the film's third protagonist.
Beforehand, set to the soundtrack of music spilling from the concert hall foyers and Guildhall practice rooms, get lost for a while in the Barbican Estate. Love or hate it, the Brutalist architecture and tantalising glimpses into the homes of the residents, makes for an interesting wander and an afternoon worthy of your own independent film. Make a note to visit again throughout the year to watch Nigel Dunnett's planting scheme change with the seasons.