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I ♥ Finland: Roger Connah

Man Lyingon Pool final

The web journal opens with a column by Roger Connah (b. Chester, England, 1950), a writer, independent scholar and researcher based in Ruthin, North Wales. Connah lived in Finland for almost 2 decades after which he has travelled, worked and taught in Sweden, India, Pakistan, USA and is now currently associate professor at Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa (after being graduate director from 2009–2012). He also operates an alternate architecture practice with John Maruszczak ( and is currently working on a film of the murder in 1986 of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme.

The Prejudice Project

About Roger Connah


connahroger@gmail.comFounder of the Dysinternet, lives (when possible and in whichever room is dry and habitable) in The Hotel Architecture, Ruthin, North Wales, a Retreat & Resistance centre currently undergoing its second severe disturbance in ten years, due apparently to climate change; lath and plaster down, water cascading through the (now re-dated) 600 year old oak beams, and Health & Safety now determining whether there are ugly traces of asbestos in the artex-pizzeria finish in the upper rooms. Though there were no traces of asbestos in this devilishly attractive 1970s finish, the recent reincarnation, helped on by a group of brilliantly flexible and creative builders from Wigan called Direct Building Solutions, headed by Danny R. has been made possible by the discovery of an immense oak beam framed interior which apparently dates the Hotel Architecture back to the late 14th early/15th Century and one of the finest examples of wattle and daub in the old town of Ruthin.It is quite possible, with the dressed plinth outside, that the Hotel Architecture, once imagined as a trivially butchered series of individual cottages, was in fact what was known as a Hall Building, with three large oak frames, a high pitch and a cavernous interior. Remnants of tar, sulfur and burnt residue in the roof space suggest fires would have been laid in the base of this void. With walls removed, the Hotel Architecture now moves into its next life as a loft dwelling and applications have been made to Unesco to make it a World Heritage Site. Step inside the triple paned, wide oak door and one enters the tardus of Dr Vertigo.For ten years Dr Vertigo worked as the honorary male and text invader of the radical all-women Relational Rrt group from Sweden called The Rocket Girls and prepared various texts, installations and exhibitions with them, brought together in the volume called Frank Heron & the Rocket Girls (N.Alice Challinor, Raketa, Stockholm 2009). Herein we experience the projects: Utopia, whatever! There is a Visitor; Another Dada Suicide; The Rocket Science Laboratory, and Beach, Frank Heron’s Final Artscript prepared for the Rocket Girls before his disappearance.Currently picking up on his time in Peshawar and the North West Frontier Province and Lahore, Dr Vertigo is now working on a new volume called House of Fiction. This kicked off when, in Peshawar at the wedding of the daughter of NWFP Minister of Education, a Khan amongst Khans, in the segregated dancing, he found himself boogieing with Muhammad Ibn Iftikhar Al-Niffari, the Head of Police, who had come down from Kabul, through the Khyber Pass, for the three day event and lamb-tail tasting.This retreat comes after the frighteningly pioneering and ignored volume on the murdered Pakistani artist Zahoor ul Akhlaq called The Rest is Silence (OUP 2011). Little did anyone know the title would be so prescient and as he was becoming a ‘persona non grata’ once more in his life, attention would now be paid to the particularly intriguing subtext in the book about exiles & danced furies.The next volume out of Vertigo Press could very well hijack this anti-library and cover a short period of filming with the Tunisian Couturier Azzedine Alaia in his Marais atelier, the filmscript that was abandoned producing the resulting text called The Solitude of Fashion.Still waving not drowning, in another life, Dr Vertigo is Associate Professor and was Associate Director of Graduate Studies (2009-2012) Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Having just translated the first volume of lost poetry by Sisyphus Montale (Project for a Hermitage, Trieste 2010) the biography of Montale is due in the next year or two. And as everyone should at least attempt to write one ‘brautigan’ in their lives, this too will vie with The Solitude of Fashion for the next Vertigo volume.
Exhibitions include: ‘KHAM’ (Delhi, 1986),  SHELTER (Dehi 1987), NEXUS (Ahmedabad 1987), Seven Famous Raincoats and a Moygashel (Helsinki, Jyvaskylä, Paris: Les Fous de L’ile 1985)  Don’t Go So Fast You’ll Crash into Martin Wagstaff (Taidehalli, Helsinki 1985). Waving Not Drowning: Chess and Zen with Alvar Aalto (1995-7) Zen and the Art of the Fluorescent Tube (Medici 2000).Architectural publications include: Writing Architecture (MIT Press, 1989; winner of the International CICA Prize 1990); Tango Mantyniemi (Edita, 1993); K/K: A Couple of Finns and Some Donald Ducks (Cinema in Society; Vapk, Helsinki 1992; Design Award; Finnish Graphic Association 1992); The End of Finnish Architecture (Helsinki, 1994; Centro Dipoli (Testo & Imagine, Torino, 1998); Welcome to the Hotel Architecture (MIT Press, Writing Architecture series, 1998); Centro Dipoli, Reima Pietila (Torino: Testo & Imagine 42, 1998); Grace and Architecture (Rakennustieto, Helsinki, 1999); Sa(l)vaged Modernism (Helsinki, 1999); Armo ja Arkkitehtuuri (Helsinki, 1999, Trans. Grace & Architecture); Aaltomania: Readings against Aalto? (Rakennustieto, Helsinki, 2000); Volker Giencke Projects (Introductory essay; New York, Vienna: Prestel 2000); Anders Wilhelsom ( Introductory essay; Electa, Milano. Italy; Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Laal, Toronto 2000); How Architecture got its Hump (MIT Press, Writing Architecture series, 2001); 40/40 Young Architects from Finland (Helsinki, 2001); Vesa Honkanen Architect (introductory essay, Beijing. 2003); Finland: Modern Architecture in History (Reaktion Press, London, 2005); The Piglet Years (Datutop, Tampere, 2006); I am Architecture (ed) (Texas, 2006); Jyrki Tasa, Architect (introductory essay, Beijing. 2007); The Rest is Silence, Zahoor ul Akhlaq (Art and Society in Pakistan; Oxford University Press, 2011); Being: an Architect, Ian Ritchie (with Roger Connah) (Royal Academy, London, 2014); A Carefully Folded Ham Sandwich (Towards a Critical Phenomenology) ed. FAD (Montreal 2014); Towards a Resistant Practice (An Evening with Mister F) Kenneth Frampton ed. FAD (Montreal 2014); The Cathedral of Critical Misery (Datutop, Tampere, 2014); We Let the Goldfish Go (forthcoming 2015).The Anti-Library (Vertigo Architectural Press/FAD Montreal (2014): Architecture Degree Zero (2008); Pulp Architecture (2009); A House for de Kooning’s Friend (2009); Aalto-Ego (2011); The Irresponsible Self (2011); The Brautigan (2011); Life After Architecture (2012); Deschooling Architecture (2013); Headless (2013); iDeath (2013).Films: Take Five (1992) YLE Finland; 27 Minute Lies (1993), YLE Finland; Drive (1994), YLE Finland; Aaltomania (1995) Iittala, Finland. Heron-Mazy: Films as frank Heron with Jan Mazy: Involuntary Architecture (2005); The Bystander in Calgary (2008); Existentialists can’t be Architects (2009); Sunbathing with Witold Gombrowicz in Manitoba (2010); The Black Walrus (2011); The Bystander in Calgary (Lisbon 2013); Underground (2014).Heron- Mazy Studio: (architecture, altered media and pedagogies with J.Mazy): Chromotopia (Unbuilt Architecture Design Award, Boston Society of Architects, 2003); Interface, Animall and Brautigan (Finalist, Dead Malls International Competition, L.A. Forum for Architecture/Urban Design, 2003); Revenge of the Lawn (First Prize: White House Redux, Storefront, New York 2008); Rapid Theory for Walls 1-3 (2008); Take off – kite-running architecture (Bangalore 2009).Other publications (poetry, essays and contributions): The Ecstasy of No Further Communication (Vertigo Poetry, Ottawa, forthcoming 2015); Calling All Angels (Vertigo Poetry, Ottawa, 2013); Poems to the Second Breast (Vertigo Poetry, 2013); A Project for a Hermitage Sisyphus Montale (Transl.) (Vertigo Poetry, Ottawa, 2011); Frank Heron & TheRocket Girls (Raketa, Stockholm, 2009); The Book of Questions, Everything Matters (Raketa, Stockholm, 2006); Steel Visions, (introductory essay) (Avain, Helsinki, 2005); Steel Images, (Critical Steel) (introductory essay) (Helsinki, 2006); Helsinki Light & Shade, (Foreword) (Otava, Helsinki, 1994; Slogan(Aphorisms) (Painatuskeskus, Helsinki, 1994); Paraphernalia from Chance Eras (Cricket Press, Helsinki, 1983); Juvenilia (Cricket Press, Helsinki, 1980); Apologies from Birth to the Era (Cricket Press, Helsinki, 1979).