The Laboratory Arts Collective Magazine has an upcoming publication ‘Futuro’, featuring a conversation between Charlotte Skene Catling and Sukie Smith. The two discuss extracting buildings from geology, adventure, coincidence, legacy, and how structure facilitates chaos and experimentation.
New book ‘The Iconic British House’ by Dominic Bradbury explores the country’s best residential examples since 1900.
‘The book, published this autumn by Thames & Hudson, is a rich investigation of the genre through a variety of examples – houses from every style, including Arts and Crafts, art deco, modernism and postmodernism – and a range of authors, both established and emerging names alike.’
‘Architects such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Edwin Lutyens, Berthold Lubetkin, Richard Rogers, Skene Catling de la Pena, and Seth Stein all make an appearance. Many of the designs have been influential beyond the country’s borders or even define entire eras or architectural periods.’
ArchDaily writes about the AaltoSiilo latest with an article titled ‘Oulu City Council Grants Permission for Aalto’s Silo Restoration Project in Finland‘.
World Architecture writes about the AaltoSiilo latest with an article titled ‘Alvar Aalto’s Iconic AaltoSiilo Project Receives Approval for Restoration in Oulu‘.
On June 3rd, two events, one in Finland and another in Madrid, awakened the powerful spirit of the Duende, enunciated by poet Federico Federico García Lorca as a state of ‘tragedy-inspired ecstasy, a poetic emotion which is uncontrolled’.
El Duende, an earth spirit from Andalusian folklore, is usually associated with flamenco culture, but thanks to these performances, we feel it acquired its universal artistic reach connecting cultures and people beyond any geographical limitation. Screaming Duende marks a milestone in the AaltoSiilo as a multimedia performance and exhibition space.
Screaming Duende was also live-streamed at the Instituto Iberoamericano de Finlandia in Madrid, where Sudanese musician Wafir Gibrilsang flamenco songs in Arabic accompanied by his lute. Highlighting the rich Arab influences of flamenco, Gibril’s performance acted as a cultural bridge to Oulu and its growing community of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Wearing a Syrian sash across his breast, the characteristic quejío or grief-stricken lamentations associated with flamenco evoked the hardship and suffering of refugees.
We thank everyone who contributed to bringing this event together, in Finland and Spain!
As part of the Oulu 2026 cultural program, Factum Foundation and AaltoSiilo are organising SCREAMING DUENDE, a new event in Meri-Toppila, Oulu on June 3rd. It is a world premiere of pairing the radical flamenco master Israel Galván and the Huutajat (Screaming Men) Choir. The event is a central part of the AaltoSiilo project, which uses art and industrial cultural heritage to develop this unique silo.
There will also be performances by vinyl DJs Malsson, Tenko, and Matti Aikio and an audiovisual concert by Veera Neva & Arttu Nieminen. The event is free and will be live-streamed and projected outside the Silo itself. The event can also be followed on Oulu2026’s Facebook page.
At AaltoSiilo Israel Galván will meet the world-famous Huutajat Choir in the spirit of Federico García Lorca’s concept of duende. García Lorca describes duende as a tragedy-inspired ecstasy, a poetic, and uncontrollable emotional state.
“El duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought.”
Oulu is the European Capital of Culture for 2026. Screaming Duende is part of the Oulu2026 culture program and the cultural climate change. The event follows last year’s event, where Transistori band played the silo building as a large-scale urban instrument.
Anna Niemelä has written her Masters thesis at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Titled ‘The Significance of Preserving Historical Industry Building’, the thesis explores the questions: why AaltoSiilo and similar historic industry buildings are worth saving, how our cultural heritage reflects on our everyday life through those buildings, and what impact can the re-use of historic buildings have on the surrounding area.
Discovery has always been at the heart of Masterpiece London and the fair celebrates the diversity of artistic expression throughout time and across cultures. The exhibition embedded the plan of Tutankhamun’s tomb within a larger labyrinth that traced how Ancient Egypt has captured the public imagination for over five hundred years, from the Renaissance to the Romantics, through colonial discovery and scientific excavation to the future and virtual or augmented experience.
On September 24th, Factum Foundation in collaboration with Oulu, European Capital of Culture 2026 will be organising a series of performances, projections and a concert in the iconic Silo by Alvar Aalto. Freely open to the public and available on Facebook streaming ,‘FAREWELL TO THE HOPPERS’ is the first event of AaltoSiilo project produced by Factum Foundation as part of Oulu2026 culture programme.
The event will start with local DJs and audiovisual artists on the grounds surrounding the Silo, located in the Meri Toppila district of Oulu. The main show, offered by Finnish percussion group Transistori, will be performed inside the iconic building designed by architects Alvar and Aino Aalto. The audience will be able to experience Transistori’s performance through a LED screen installed outside the Silo.
Two industrial metal hoppers formerly used during the cellulose-making process will be dismantled and removed from site in 2023, as part of the restoration works undertaken by the Factum Foundation and Skene Catling de la Peña. A third one was already removed from the Silo during checks to the structural integrity of the building in the past years. The cavernous and peculiar sound of these metal hoppers caught the attention of Finnish percussion group Transistori, who specialises in instruments built from scrap and recycled materials. The performance will highlight and explore the industrial past of the Toppila Pulp Mill Silo and its rebirth after restoration.
The group, composed of six musicians and two sound engineers, all originally from Oulu, will use the hoppers and funnels as percussion instruments during the performance, remixing and enhancing their sound using electronic beats, synthesizers and drum machines. The interior of the Silo will act as a resonating chamber, transforming the building into an urban-sized musical instrument.
The Silo, designed to store wood chips for cellulose production and located in the Meri Toppila area of Oulu, is currently undergoing restoration. The not-for-profit Factum Foundation and the award-winning architectural practice Skene Catling de la Peña, who acquired the Silo in 2020, aim to repurpose it as a multi-purpose centre for the digital preservation of industrial heritage in the North.
Presented by Masterpiece London in partnership with Apollo, this three-part series of podcasts provides an insight into the works on show at this year’s Masterpiece fair. In this final episode, Sophie Barling speaks to Charis Tyndall of Charles Ede about a striking image of female companionship on an Ancient Greek funeral stele. Nick Stagliano of Michele Beiny gallery tells the story behind a porcelain breast bowl made for Marie Antoinette, while Adam Lowe talks about the display he has curated with architect Charlotte Skene Catling for the fair’s new Masterpiece [Re]Discovery section, ‘Avoiding Oblivion: The Preservation of Pharaonic Knowledge’, which builds on the work of Lowe’s workshop Factum Arte in the Valley of the Kings over the last two decades.
Masterpiece London is at the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 30 June–6 July.
Link to full podcast
The exhibition Avoiding Oblivion – Pharaonic Influence over the Past 500 Years, curated by Adam Lowe and Charlotte Skene Catling at Masterpiece [Re]Discovery in London, was the result of years of work to raise awareness about the preservation of cultural heritage and the changing attitudes to preservation.
Our collective fascination with Ancient Egypt has grown since the start of modern Egyptology in 1822 – the year that saw the deciphering of Hieroglyphs and the exhibition of the first facsimile of part of Seti’s tomb in London and Paris. While the excitement took many people to Luxor and created an important economy based on tourism, it also led to the partial destruction of the Valley of the Kings. In November, COP27 will hopefully deliver more than the first 26 summits and help us all to avoid oblivion!
Led by Jonathan Ruffer, the Auckland Project is working to regenerate large sections of the town of Bishop Auckland. Part of the redevelopment is the new Spanish Gallery, the first museum in the UK to be devoted to Spanish art, which opened on October 15, 2021.
Factum Foundation and Skene Catling de la Peña were commissioned to rethink the concept and role of a museum for the top floor. The result, ‘In the Blink of an Eye, Transience and Eternity in the Spanish Golden Age’, is a space filled with great objects, all with their own specific history, biography and meaning in their original location, but with the potential to unlock a profound understanding of Spanish art when put together in dialogue with each other. The original pieces were all chosen, digitally recorded using non-contact technologies and re-embodied as physical facsimiles to reveal some of the defining characteristics of this period of Spanish art and its context.
The outcome is a portal into Spanish Renaissance and early Baroque thinking and a collection of mutually beneficial collaborations that redefine sharing, connoisseurship and preservation.
Since the beginning of 2022, while weather conditions in Finland don’t allow for the renovation works to continue, the team at AaltoSiilo has been quite busy presenting the new plans and design updates to the Oulu 2026 Capital of Culture Foundation team and the city planning council. The project is now officially part of the Oulu 2026 programming and plans are in the making to organise the first event within the Silo this summer.
The focus on recycling and reuse has prompted the Skene Catling de la Peña team to look for suitable demolition sites in order to reclaim and reuse building material (or ‘spolia’) in and around Oulu. Charlotte Skene Catling was invited as a keynote speaker at the European University of Post-Industrial Cities in Rotterdam on June 17, where she will present the AaltoSiilo project and the Meri Toppila urban transformation process.
Lauri Klemola has written his Masters thesis at Aalto University on the AaltoSiilo. The thesis is a collection of three essays in architectural theory that take the silo’s title as ‘The Ugliest Building in Oulu’ as a starting point for exploring the aesthetics of ugliness.
Download Thesis here
No longer a building for storing woodchips, the Silo is now an extraordinary piece of sculpture. Since July, Valentino Tignanelli and the team in Finland have cleared, cleaned and secured the building after decades of neglect; the pigeons no longer rule the roost. The most recent step, before the snow and freezing weather halted building work until spring, has been the installation of electricity and lighting.
Through the preservation of this great building, the goal is to create a new approach to the recording and reuse of industrial heritage. After an extremely positive meeting with the Oulu planning department, Skene Catling de la Peña are currently developing the design of the new Research Centre, and working with engineers eHRW and other Finnish partners to define a protocol for recycling large pieces of demolition waste.
“The Aaltosiilo project ends its first operational year with the building and plot of land fully cleaned and cleared. Plus, now for the first time in 40 years, the inside is lightened up by a new electricity network and dozens of working lights.
2022 will see the Siilo renovated in depth, with sustainable practices and innovative solutions that will hopefully allow us to host the first events and shared discussions with the community about its future. Everybody in Oulu is looking forward to the revitalisation of this iconic landmark and the work will continue at a fast pace, among Northern lights in the sky and snow in the ground!”
The 15th International Alvar Aalto Symposium – Future of Industry (August 12-13 2021), will focus on the current challenges of the spaces and milieus of the history, present and future manufacturing industry. The main theme will be studied from three specific viewpoints. Reliable partner: a factory building in the city, Responsible action: sustainable industrial milieus and Building identity: The role of industrial architecture in constructing community, recognizability and perceived value.
Charlotte Skene Catling and Adam Lowe will present the AaltoSiilo as keynote speakers in this event organised by the Alvar Aalto Academy together with the City of Jyväskylä and several other partners. The 2-day programme will include besides speeches and conversations, architectural excursions, exhibitions and various public events.
Charlotte Skene Catling, Co Founder, Catling de la Pena Architects, and Andrew Whalley, Deputy Chairman, Grimshaw Architects
• Narratives and movement / choreography in relation to space. The Fidelio performance as a site specific piece, staged in a former Gulag in Siberia.
• What happens at the scale of Disney’s Tomorrowland in Shanghai?
• Does performance have the same meaning in small and large projects?
Emma Chricton-Miller writes an article featuring the Madame de Pompadour exhibition designed by Skene Catling de la Peña in collaboration with Factum Arte. The article investigates how digital technology is transforming our understanding of the context and meaning of historic works of art.
MASTERPIECE PRESENTS launched last year as a large-scale, dedicated exhibition space within Masterpiece London, transforming the Fair’s entrance and providing a platform for innovative, immersive works of art.
This year they showcase a new body of work by Marina Abramovic, Five Stages of Maya Dance. Presented by Factum Arte, in collaboration with Lisson Gallery, with the exhibition design by Skene Catling de la Peña, this set of five alabaster portraits of Marina Abramović merge performance, light and sculpture. They have a hauntingly physical presence but, as you move around the pieces, they decompose into intricately carved ‘landscapes’ of alabaster.
These works are the result of an extended period of experimentation that the artist has been carrying out in Factum Arte’s workshops in Madrid. Through the use of carved alabaster, Abramović is exploring new ways to give form to her ideas.
Skene Catling de la Peña feature in The Guardian with Oliver Wainwright’s thoughts on Cube Haus and the idea of designer catalogue homes.
In 2017, Philip Bueno de Mesquita approached Skene Catling de la Peña with the Cube Haus concept, which he and his partner Paul Tully created in response to the ongoing shortage of housing in London. They had discovered an underused asset: small, awkward and irregular sites. They then proposed a unique model for the development of residential infill sites and commissioned Skene Catling de la Peña, as one of four award winning Architects, to develop a replicable design that could unlock the potential of these often overlooked assets.
World Architecture Festival brings the world’s most influential architects, designers, commentators, historians and critics together to discuss the theme of Performance across three days on three stages at the World Architecture Festival 2017.
Charlotte Skene Catling will talk about her approach to excavating meaning from context as a means of developing architecture. Where geology is focused on the study of the earth and the rocks from which it is formed, archeology concentrates on the ‘biofacts’, artifacts, architectures and cultural landscapes within a given place. Using a combined ‘geological’ and ‘archeological’ approach, her practice has developed an unusual method of making architecture that enters into adjacent disciplines. Her talk will be illustrated by five projects: three buildings, one opera and an art installation for the 57th Venice Art Biennale to open in May 2017.
Skene Catling de la Peña, in collaboration with Factum Foundation, have designed the latest RA exhibition; The Veronica Scanner: A new interactive project that celebrates the art of 3D photogrammetry in the 21st century. For ten days in September, the RA will be home to the Veronica Chorographic Scanner, a bespoke 3D head scanner. In a matter of seconds, the scanner uses eight cameras to capture 96 high resolution photographs of the human head from every angle, mapping even the finest surface details. These images can then be processed into a digital 3D model, replicating every feature of the face in intricate detail.
In the first lecture in the Architecture Centre’s 20th anniversary programme, People and Places, Charlotte Skene Catling considers the foundations of architecture and place making.
Described by the judges as “a marvel of geological evolution and construction, Flint House is a celebration of location, material and architectural design at its best. Set in the flint-layered fields of the Rothschild’s estate at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the building rises from the ground as dark, fashioned flint and slowly changes in construction and texture until its refined white chalk blocks disappear into the sky.”
Celebrated for the artistry of their work, Assemble and Charlotte Skene Catling discuss the craft of architecture with Richard Wentworth and Will Hunter at the London School of Architecture’s monthly Show and Tell Social.