NEW 📗Story: School Photo

Hot Summers in the Arctic (and Newda architecture)

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019
⚠️ This article is archived, and should be considered non-canon.

Previous post here.

The Café Resmoiones approaches its hundredth birthday as the girls outside await their fifteenth. The building was once a kindergarten, so they’d been told, but through decades of Vekllei’s irreverent planning it had become a café. It was not a very good café, the food was shit, but the building was nice and it was at the bottom of Lola’s steep residential hill. Locals struggling down it would pool at the bottom and inevitably step inside for a drink. In summer, the café serves seasonal iced drinks to welcome a climate that has destroyed much of the world’s equatorial agriculture but has provided their arctic home a liveable summer. The girls dodge freckles and sip iced coffee as millions around the world flee encroaching deserts.

The unstable Atlantic pressure oscillation, of which Vekllei anchors as the Vekllei low pole, can pull in bitter cold from the Greenland currents, or warmth from the Azores tempestuously.

So it is that in summer, on a beach of black igneous sand from the volcanoes of this place, hot rains can descend instantly and beat pedestrians until the rains vanish, minutes later. Winters are equally unstable — they shift between unlivable cold and sporadic thawing periods.

If you have ever spoken to a Vekllei person in English, you will notice an irritating habit of adding unnecessary vowels to words. ‘Loafer’ becomes “lowiefer”, ‘a ciggie’ becomes “des cigoirettenne”, and the concept of ‘trees’ become “tres foliage”. This is an instinctual artefact of Vekllei talk, which incorporates vocal gestures to accompany physical ones, even in foreign words. It is also how ‘nakedity”’becomes ‘Newda’, the dominant architectural school in Vekllei, found almost everywhere.

As a sort of post-deco modernism, it retains the striking geometry and vertical movement of more decadent architectural styles, but employs them conservatively to better reveal naked shape — ‘newda’. It is a flexible school that manifests differently depending on the utility of the building. Residential apartments, for example, often display elements reminiscent of constructivism, where national bureaus, or ‘hard buildings’ as they’re called in Vekllei, are more brutalistic. The stripped classicism of buildings of authority stands in stark contrast to the playful googie of utilities like phone booths and public restrooms. These allusions to grand midcentury architecture are domesticated with a unique form of Vekllei populuxe, usually because of Vekllei’s use of colour and shape as a language in itself.

Some have called it a ‘Paris moderne’ for the hegemony of the modernist bastards in Vekllei’s architecture schools, but to Vekllei people, these space-age visions of the future are home.

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