A10COOP – FIRST WRITINGS

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A10COOP – FIRST WRITINGS

The publisher of the European Architecture Magazine A10 went belly up last spring. The magazine had been successful, the amount of readers and subscribers had been continuously rising and the international distribution was excellently taken care of. The magazine itself was not at all in economic trouble.

The bankruptcy of the publisher also took down the magazine (established by Hans Ibelings), and the editors were abruptly given notice. That must have been a shocking moment at the Amsterdam offices.

I have been a long-time correspondent of A10, and I was as devastated as all the other devoted writers, together embracing an area where the amount of population can be counted in hundreds of millions.

At the end of May we congregated in the Palazzo Widmann in Venice, or at least a few of us. We had been invited to be special advisors for an European book about best architecture studios on the continent, and some of use went there for the book launching event. There was also some time to discuss, what to do. A decision was made that we establish a critical Architecture Internet publication, where those of us who so wish, can contribute.

Now A10 has come so far that there now exists an Internet publication called A10COOP. I have recently signed documents that make me a member. All collaborators are listed in Where we came form – section, with photographs and short texts about who we are.

The next step will be to continue critical architecture writing as usual. The money earning logistics has yet to be figured out, and I will later start to look for donations and sponsors. Also the editor-in-chief is looking for possibilities to support us and the coop.

We also had an interesting first assignment: an Dutch organisation is collecting material about architecture competition systems in several European countries. My duty was to send a (rather long) text that gives answers to several question and an analysis about the history and present of our  140 year old competition system. On thursday evening I sent my contribution to Holland, and the organisation will also get a set of  competition programs, published competitions plus a book on the history of architecture competitions, published in 2006 by SAFA. For my task I received valuable assistance by colleagues Mari Koskinen and Pipsa Penttinen from the SAFA office.

In the new A10COOP platform you can now also find all previous issues – and please note that Finnish architecture has almost once a year made it to the cover. Ii is quite extraordinary: we are only 5.5. million, there were only six issues every year and the magazine covered over 25 countries.

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Recently, A10 has put a lot of weight especially on young architect´s doings. My personal opinion is that a profession where one can be brilliant and productive even at the age of 90, the choices for publishing should never be made judging by the ages of the architects; many big-name offices also have younger project architects who are much in charge of some projects. The Finnish architecture studio JKMM, chosen by the International jury (sorry ALA, sorry Heikkinen Komonen, sorry NRT Architects and sorry all others that made it to the top list sent to the publishers , by me) for the book as our most interesting and best, sets a fine example of collaboration between the main partners and younger teams.

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Since I have been away from Helsinki for some time, there is a lot to catch up on best new contemporary architecture in Finland. Later I must start ask for donations and another kind of support, like travel costs, since critical architecture journalism is now highly endangered.

The A10 team has had a hard and persistent fight behind, with all kinds of legal issues. It took over half a year to get most matters settled and to establish the now COOP. Now the whole content of 67 issues can finally be found in pdf format – and it also forms a part of the history of the International visibility of Finnish architecture.

A10 was very affordable when it came out as a printed publication. But: people less and less subscribe to solid architecture reviews. I highly blame the younger generation of architecture students and architects, who only settle with free Internet ”publications” like Dezeen and ArchDaily. They are of course more than OK, but actually do not largely present and publish critical architecture journalism. Instead, they mostly publish material sent directly by architecture studios and their PR departments.

Instead, A10 has been very critical about what it publishes and what not. I remember sending material, for instance, about the Helsinki Kalasatama project. It did not make it – the editorial team considered it to be too commercial and bland as a high-rise project. I had to settle for their opinion.

Now I wish that you, my dear readers, also have a look at the newly-born A10 Internet publication – who we are and what we soon will publish.

The team of correspondents consists of  both youngish and more experienced architects and writers. I later will tell, how to further support my efforts in continuing to write about Finnish architecture for the International readers.

Here a few words about the COOP:

A10 new European Cooperative is an organisation of journalists, critics and bloggers in the field of architecture. Together we work on a platform for (emerging) European architecture within the broader context of economics, politics, philosophy, sociology and art. All A10 members are independent and leading experts within their own field of expertise. We like to cooperate and offer our services to any architecture initiative that fits our mission statement.

In the image, a few members of the COOP in Venice las May, discussing the then yet unknown future of the publication. Editor-in-chief Indira van´t Klooster is the person on the right.

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