the Architect and the Twisted Tower
by Fredrik Gertten, Producer and director
The Cinema Guild, New York, 2005
DVD, col., 59 mins.
Sales: $295; rental, $85
Distributors website: http://www.cinemaguild.com/.
Reviewed by Andrea Dahlberg
Malmö is the commercial centre of
southern Sweden that is undergoing a transition
from being an industrial city to a knowledge
based economy. Older industries are being
replaced by those in the technology and
communications sectors bringing radical
changes in the physical and social landscape.
The Western Harbour district was once
an industrial area with a world-famous
shipyard but now houses companies in the
IT and telecommunications industries.
It also houses Santiago Calatrava's controversial
apartment building that is the tallest
in Sweden and the second tallest in Europe.
The building was inspired by a sculpture
of a "Turning Torso" by Calatrava, a Spanish
architect, engineer and sculptor based
in Zurich. The sculpture so inspired Johnny
Orback, the MD of HSB Malmö, a Swedish
housing corporation, that he persuaded
Calatrava to turn it into an apartment
building for the city. "Turning Torso"
consists of nine cubes with a total of
54 stories, with a 90° twist from
base to top. After encountering numerous
problems, the project was completed in
August last year and has won several major
awards, including "World's Best Residential
Building" at MIPIM in Cannes, 2005.
This excellent one-hour film charts the
development of the project from conception
to near completion. The director and producer,
Fredrik Gertten, has obtained outstanding
footage that shows, first hand, the kinds
of problems thrown up when two visionaries
(Orback and Calatrava) attempt to create
a landmark building rather than another
apartment block in a regeneration area.
Ultimately, Calatrava triumphs, but Orback
is forced to resign. Some of the most
interesting parts of the film show the
Swedes struggling to work outside the
familiar context of their own culture:
Swedish contractors are used to taking
over the realisation of such a project
and are not used to working in partnership
with an architect, let alone one as powerful
as Calatrava ; Orback is attacked by local
people who see building apartments for
the affluent as a betrayal of post-war
Swedish housing policy.
This film will be relevant to anyone interested
in architecture, regeneration and the
work of Santiago Calatrava but above all,
it is a riveting story well told.