Aalto University Archives

Radical composition – Kaj Franck’s general course

By Marika Sarvilahti
Kaj Franck's general composition course
Playground in Kallio, Kaj Franck's general composition course

Information Specialist Marika Sarvilahti, Aalto University Archives:

Radical composition: Kaj Franck’s general course

The General Composition course taught in the 1960s at the Institute of Industrial Art was inspired by the basic course at the famous Bauhaus. Compulsory for all students its aim was to free talent from conventional patterns and biased attitudes. Group work was required to prevent individualism.

The course developed by the Artistic Leader Kaj Franck crossed departmental barriers, encouraged students’ possibilities to express opinions and become aware of societal and environmental problems. The course no doubt astounded Franck’s contemporaries by anticipating many challenges of our time and laid the foundation for design education in Finland.

Examples I have chosen are exercises from the course’s environmental projects such as the building of temporary shelters out of waste materials in the then deserted Jätkäsaari (1966), and the building of a children’s playground in an unused site in Kallio (1967).

The playground project was an artistic work but also contained social commentary for claiming the site for children’s use. The playground functioned for three days offering a cave, trampoline, puppet theatre, slides, a rocket and a sculpture made entirely from pulla. There was also an environmental analysis of Katajanokka including a complete redevelopment proposal for making the area more socially varied and inclusive.

Re-imagining the Past exhibition Vol. 2 online
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