One of the related highlights of HDL Global was meeting Helsinki-based architect Tuomas Toivonen (who has the great studio NOW), and in particular hearing him perform his new record ‘Urbanism in the House’ a couple of times.
Put simply, which is probably the best way with something like this, ‘Urbanism in the House’ is a record - and yes, on vinyl - that consists largely of a smart history of modern architecture and urbanism delivered in Tuomas’ Finnish-accented rap and set to metronomic house backdrop. Of course! Toivonen points out that house is the most architectural of genres, after all ...
I was lucky enough to see Toivonen perform it at the opening dinner for HDL Global (Sitra are, I believe, in some way a patron of the project, hence the tie-in with HDL and Low2No), and then again at an album launch party in a club a couple of days later (with Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook, Marko Ahtisaari, Rory Hyde and Cynthia Shanmugalingam).
Live, it’s quite something. In his track 'Teachers' (loosely based on Daft Punk) Tuomas name-checks everyone from Cedric Price to Sejima, while 'U is for Utopia' roll-calls “Mr. Ebenezer Howard and his theory of three magnets”, La Ville Radieuse and 'Less is a Bore'. To watch the room, er, 'blow up' in both cases was both surreal and immensely pleasing. Only in Helsinki?
Here’s the video of the first track ‘U is for Utopia’: