This is the story of a curvy, kidney-shaped swimming pool born in Northern Europe that had a huge ripple effect on popular culture in Southern California and landscape architecture in Northern California, and then the world. A documentary in three … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent invisible. I'm roman Mars, people. Ask us where we get our stories from being there is usually hard depend down it could be something one of us noticed walking around, or a friend merchant some forward. At least on Twitter, it's nearly impossible to say were inspiration comes from in any art form. It's a long way from the seed of an idea to its execution, the brilliant architect over. To put it very well in an extended metaphor about a fish industry, be wrote, Architecture in its details are in some way all part of biology. Perhaps they are since, like some big salmon are trout, they're, not. Fully grown there bored in the sea or water where they normally live? They are born grids of miles away from their home grounds. Were the rivers narrow, two tiny streams just
It takes time for a speck of fish pond to mature into a fully grown fish. So we it's time for everything that develops and crystallizes in our world of ideas This is a story about one idea born hundreds of miles away, far off stream and ideas. Would travel from Northern Europe to Southern California, where it would On a whole new life before making its way back again, it's a story in three parts: by producer, every chocolate pardon California, what two skaters in a plaza, are confronted by a guard I look so there's one regular. It's kind of pity Skateboarding is banned in so many places, because state borders appreciate the small deed.
Else of architecture more than anyone they. I recognise the quality of concrete, the grain of wood. The incline of a structure I recognise the way a landscape flows asked you to start by introducing a mine. Whose Jake felt some editor Thrasher magazine from San Francisco California born and raised yeah. What do you get draft? Is a skateboarding magazine that skaters call the Bible visiting its headquarters is kind of surreal. It's like if you went to escape park and yelled out to all the punks. Hey you guys, wanna go hang out in an office there, all there sneakers in Benin caps, slow, Behind monitors like caged animals, and tell they'd rather be skating. Skater address, like asperities costumes ever run in all my life. I don't wear Louis avatar close did them in their wares sneakers. This is the way it is. We were utilitarian. We skate it's thing in the world. Take Phelps is fifty
five years old tattoos. Over his arms big, thick glasses over his face and close cropped gray, hair He blatantly had suddenly in the interview and invites me to his punk bans, show over the weekend I don't think he'd mind that I told you that reporting. There is no girlfriends jobs life. People always say. Now again, too, there have been doing this for forty years. You can tell me how to sail away from transporting is a slave extension of me So are you something you have to understand? So what is where's the artist taken? It's your head, You hold yourself, and that is why you hold yourself what a view that sort of bad ass death, may care attitude that skaters have perfected that's kind of funny, because skateboarding was pretty dorky back when it was just getting started. The very first skateboard was called the skateboard scooter and it was a scooter
Stacy per Alta, skateboarding pioneer and director of the excellent documentary, Dogtown and Z boys, which is all about the birth of modern skateboarding, Stacy says at some point. No one really knows when, but someone knocked the handlebars off the scooter and just road the board and probably emulated surfing, and so what happened was skateboarding had a very, very brief appearance in nineteen sixty four and so the five skateboards were sold in toys stores and skateboarding briefly became a fad, but then, as quickly as it started at died out again, it was like the hoop. It has come and gone as the skateboard fad was receding into the distance. Stacy was growing up in this beach, California. Was thoroughly seventies. Stacy was a little surfer out with long blonde hair and when the way were bad in the middle of the day, he and his friends wanted something to do what we really wanted to do was emulate surfing
did the surf on land and they discovered old, skateboard, one of my friends. Use older brothers had skateboarding in the very early sixties and they had to escape words left in their garage that they never touched. So we started, writing those boards. Those early skateboards had these hard. Monkey wheels, made out of clay or steel seed eaten, if he ran over a pebble or a penny on the ground, and that meant tricks had to be there. A simple like I can stand up straight for I can balance on the Tipp of the board Maybe a willy nilly, just kind of back and forth on a flat, smooth surface flat land tricks. That's basically what you could do Stacy was really young, like maybe seven years old, but he can we're skating for the first time even what those big clunky clay wheels. Little Stacy found blissful stillness. It was so profound that from that point forward,
I needed to get back on that board and find that stillness, because I'm more relaxed when I stand on skateboard that I'm gonna walk but Stacy and his friend for discovering skateboards, while the rest of the country was forgetting them. Stacy had that old board here on earth and his friends garage but after a war that out there is no more boards. Did you know that I could buy in stores it is you couldn't by escape we're back then, so, instead, Stacy and his friends would go to thrift store and by a pair of rulers its which had clay or metal or hard plastic wheels and maybe Stacy would take the left skate and his friend would take the right skate and they cut the bases of the wheels and put them on plank of wood and then right that back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth for hours in the hours that we spent doing it would be equivalent to a kid today. You know, jumping up and down for eight hours and POGO stick in every single day. Seven days a week need you probably go jeez. Maybe we should tell this kid that there is no future in this
early. Seventy early invention comes along that would revolutionize skateboarding the European we'll this soft plastic we'll had more give to it held the ground, unlike clunky dangerous clay. Wheels that preceded it. These after wheels were intended for roller skaters, at the dawn of the roller disco era, but a small company called creative Europeans, began producing european wheels specifically to escape excessive or together back there under the wheels of the wheels were sold at surf shops, since they were escape shops and they were advertised in Surfer magazine, forty six and in the summer of nineteen. Seventy four sales there are thin, wheels went gangbusters Suddenly we had a wheel that could grip and it could roll over bumps and little rocks and it allowed us to attack terrain that previously were We were not able to attack now they could skate all surfaces
greater LOS Angeles, was theirs to claim, and so that meant school yards that meant in garages city buildings was anyplace, anything was ridable, but none of this was designed for us. None of it These young kids, with jumping fences and trespassing breaking things on search new surfaces to ride. They were real turning the city around them. Finding the beauty in the pavement and the concrete world. And then, in the mid seventies there was a drought in California. Southern California. The driest part of this programme does not rush fires, some of them big and expensive buyers will drop in California. Pray for re wiped out. Forecasters do not expect the draft was so bad in the seventies. That the water company ran billboard adds that encouraged couples to shower together to save water
and a further save water. People didn't fill up their swimming pools. And in LOS Angeles there are a lot of swimming pools and their very distant. Dr looking. What we had in LOS Angeles is we had the big, beautiful voluptuous shapes that you did not see anywhere else in the world that you find, in LOS Angeles, except in very, very, very, very small quantities. Pools of LOS Angeles are shaped like peanuts, like keyholes holds like kidney beans. They have these curved undulating edges paved in even smooth concrete, with gently varying rounded debts that slope back up to the light, and during the day out in the seventies. They were all anti. They were perfect. They just were so beautiful it conceived and designed, and we fell in love with the shapes Stacy and his friends would hunt for pools. It find
house under construction or patrol the fancy part of town where they knew they'd, find the most sumptuous luxurious pools. They'd have to fence they break in If there is a little bit of old dirty water drain, it out themselves with buckets, they brought trash cans or eventually they bring an endeavour vacuum along with them, and then they up and down they go so fast. They could go up the wall they could skate like they were sure thing away when we finally got to swimming pools and feel weightless like going up a vertical wall. Weightlessness is pretty extraordinary: skateboarding became a form of choreography We are trying to do as much as possible in a limited space of the pool and the graceful while doing it. Here. We were a bunch of scruffy kids
Here we are writing in back your pools and we know what we're doing is beautiful and we get to feel beautiful, and this beauty attracted attention back First wave escape warning in the early sixties. There had been a magazine called simply scape order. It went out of business, from the skateboarding fad died out, but in the did seventies them magazine came back and it featured Stacy and his friends riding in backyard pools a point. Every kid in America and all over the world wanted to get inside a swimming pool. That was yet there was Holy GRAIL and Sylvia Drought, really acted as a wonderful midwife to the Skateboarding revolution. Eventually Stacy and the other state borders got so good at pools. Getting they were able to scale up over the edge of the pool, the kind of jump up. Up in the air and maybe do a spanner something before dropping back into the pool, and these aerial tricks led to another genre skateboarding so soon I'll became less important and
stream maneuvers became more important. Aerial tricks pave the way for the Ex Games, half pipes and tony hawk. This whole chapter of the sport, where skaters were true, involved themselves, really really high up in the air, and that can all be traced back. To the rounded, by amorphous pools of LOS Angeles. The ones shaped like peanuts and keyholes and kidney beans. Airway was the backyard pool MECCA, but not just the backyard pull echo the properly beautifully designed backyard pool, and I don't know of any place in the world that has that proliferation of that kind of voluptuous sensuous design, rules of southern California and their proliferation led to the proliferation of skating, more people are now than ever. Its assent. Billion dollar industry goddamn, hence Jake Phelps Thrasher again, because came pulls every day before skein right now, people just saw somebody just broke their armour. Nepal, Irena trust me in
pools of California bring us to our next chapter. Canada about like where the bean shaped pool comes from the bean shape was being shipowner. The re him a as ours car will. You know called beach What's of business Irene, obviously would be somebody s Derek designed to someone's backyard well. Jake Phelps doesn't have to be like that about it, but he's right it starts with one esoteric design in someone's back yard, but it might be, most famous private backyard in twentieth century american history, hard to cinema, on top of a remote hill in Sonoma County in northern California. At the end alone. Curvy dirt road, the car, Poles, into a driveway three small dogs, Russia, summit Ridge, often sorry. We overshot it a little like just inside you
We and Sandy tunnel are the owners and caretakers of this property, which is known as the done our garden, it's really famous in the world of landscape architecture. But if you want to visit it, it's kind of a challenge. You can't find it on Google maps that address is wrong and there aren't any public listings or sites with contact information for it, because it's just private home, a modest sized retro, modern, looking house on a hill. It was Sandy's parents place Europe, Dan L, ranch property born in ninety. One, the youngest have three children, the done. Our garden was planted in nineteen forty eight and it was revolutionary at the time, Traditional gardens of the early twentieth century had been more a symmetrical rows of different kinds of flowers. There were kind of like plant museums may be accepted with a geometric hedge or fruit. Three, the Donner Garden, is nothing like that. It's mostly long one is A unifying feature.
Meanders through everything, and it becomes the ring. The Green River that goes from space to space. The garden looks like a sea of clean cut. Grass, with floating islands of tropical plants clusters or groups of rock then a few ancient oak trees and there are large swathes of concrete, a big wooden deck from above. The garden is almost like: a mature collage, an arrangement of abstract shapes on a green grass canvas and the most distinctive shape, of course, is the pool. Oh my guide years, the object of your search, kidney rule. This from what we know who was the first kidney shaped pool in California, is every bit as beautiful. As I thought. Actually, it is bright. Pristine, electric, blue and in the centre of the pool, is an abstract sculpture by Adeline can't which has to force through one above water one below.
And you can swim through the holes in the sculpture like a dolphin and its insanely fine. I know because I try the pool overlooks acres of dusting ransom, proper you can hear, the hum of cars on a race track off in the distance, You can see the hodgepodge skyline of San Francisco looming hazily beyond it. I can't help but think that a state or kill to drain this poor, it's beautiful. Oh Our de overstate, the importance of the done garden to both formal landscape architecture and everyday american backyards, sandy I'll told me that a picture of the garden was in the Encyclopaedia Britannica under landscape architecture. The property also helped create what we think as the modern, suburban backyard, but the law on the deck and the poor
I would guess, with the exception possibly Versailles, that Dunno gardeners pride, the most publish garden released in the twentieth century. Actual historian Mark tribe, the denounced and was designed by Thomas Church, a landscape architect who wanted to create outdoor spaces that people we use and love. The title of Thomas Churches Book was actual gardens are for people in gardens or for people. He asked hypothetical clients how much you really liked garden. If you know, a garden the union. The paving makes a lot of sense. Church said that garden didn't necessarily have to be those traditional rose in rows of flowers. This was a revelation for modern families like the dun else. They wanted a place for parties and relaxing and lounging, They wanted their yard to be a piece of functional art, but their kids and dogs could clamber on
the Donner Garden became the epitome of outdoor California, lifestyle throughout the nineteen. Fifty lifestyle, magazines like sunset and house, beautiful featured the die our garden on their covers in many ways it it became the icon, certainly of american modern landscape architecture, a lot of it being, of course, that's why we're here for the swimming? as images of the dinner garden began to spread newly minted suburban ice across southern California, began to imitate it and West Coast. Landscape. Architects were inspired by its creative use of paving and lawn, and it's beautiful by a more effect, curvy pool the blue inspired thousands of imitators. In eventually thousands of young skaters in southern California, now we can't for sure exactly where Thomas Church came up with the idea of using the original kidney shape,
retro boomerang shapes were appearing in everything from fine art to mass produce, textiles and formica tables by one thousand nine hundred and forty seven, the shapes were everywhere. You know they were on everything and everywhere So it's really hard to sake, but There is a really interesting and widespread theory about where church got his inspiration, but it kidney pool skateboarding. To my neighborhood like night. At the end of nineteen eightys, we got little bit off like magazines and videos coming from from the California see in part three Finland redraw from actually went to Finland. Did you get those videos skaters in California, The first was came like when some summers dad went to our business trip it's his days and then they prefer brought back some widows yeah sorry. I grew up in Finland videos of California skaters and he caught the bug in a big way. He started skateboarding and then becomes
answered and started skating in cities all over the world through it boring. I fell in love with architecture and design young and went to university and studied architecture in part to have more control over the spaces. He skating just like Sneak into that business, and not don't tell anyone that I'm a skater and just make sure that the handrail escape the stairs advocate, give good materials and curbs and in architecture You wanna distinctly remembers lecture. He heard about the origins of the kidney pool. There was a professor coming from California and she was having lecture and talking about. The Donald Garden, I think she was saying that is the mother of all kidney pulls, but that didn't seem two he knew about another kidney pool. It sucks grandmother of of pulses in Finland in middle of Finland, and it was designed by an hour,
tact and designer named alarm. Alto out of work and his life was exceptional, mean that tests that he was a boy a near enough. Cross disciplinary thinking and F design. This is Anti Oliver and architects and vice president of Auto University, which is named after Oliver Alto. He designed marvellous furniture. And also had a flourishing business over Is the man in Finland there are busts of him, everywhere. He designed a lot of the past. Like. In government buildings in meeting halls in Helsinki, and Oliver alters for sure is in I could you not almost every single almost every home, has something What It was beloved in venerated beyond Finland to Frank, Lloyd I loved alto and he hated other architects, Frank Gehry, also sites Alto as well The only other architects that he admires Oliver.
I'll do it was, and architects architect and his work help create a unique finnish static Which was an important part of developing a unique finnish identity, because Finland is a relatively young country, Bulgaria. Poland was first for about five hundred years pot of three them and then for one, I'm curious bottle: Russia. There some movie theatres in California that are older than Finland. It was only one thousand nine hundred and seventeen that Finland became independent before that it was a russian and it looks like it. The architecture in downtown Helsinki is. Expectantly regal intimidating The buildings line the streets like towering pastel, cakes with white ornate trim thinking, has stood in for Moscow and Leningrad in a number of films and, at the end of nineteenth century, became very important to create our own national identity and tried to get the independent Finland. That's a step away from soviet romanticism, especially because the
best of Europe was experimenting with a new approach called functionalism functionalism was a reaction to the dirty nasty polluted cities of the nineteenth century toward a loaded down with extra trim and ornaments and statues. Functionalism was like an architectural cleanse. Chinese. Want it to be a healthy dose of sunlight. Air bit mean buildings, it was fresh Think of the sharp lines and steel and metal of the german Bow House or the prison. In concrete of liquor. Busier functionalism is clean, geometric, stark, spacious, modern, and a little sterile so outer was influence. By functional list ideas but wanted to humanize than adopting this kind of international influence and making his own virtues that all those architecture was crisp and fun.
A little more natural and organic, and he did this in part by using a lot of wood. It would behave in ways it hadn't before bending and blowing in a new way, This is the honest, Malmberg, architect and art historian, with the Alto Foundation where are we can you describe where we are today others own house and also the office for luck. Did hear. Yonah showed me the legs of some chairs and Stools Otto had made and talked about outdoes patented method for beef. Ending and curving. Would this That's it allowed Alto to make curvy moulds to make these wavy glass viruses that he became famous its blown in the timber mould way get a bit different than and a new shapes for it, curves made their way into altos, stairways and walls, and he made curving partitions to break up space. He used rounded tiles and undulating countertops, says a fair to say a lot of it.
Curse. You just made cause he could like. He figured out how to do it and he was just Google with a problem of this and then have a problem of wanted, though she wanted to buildings to be kind of something that you can't really predict so when an art collector and lumber heiress, Nay Marie gulags and asked alter to design her country home. The villa Maria also wanted to keep it very stark and clean, but also very friendly and natural, and we don't have their luck in each passing material. Learning the floor, some Frederick on the wall, we don't have any any material that would have a push, but, of course, in Finland, if you're gonna have a country villa you're gonna have a son, it's part of our finnish way of spending to time and through our countryside, its sort of culture and if you're gonna have a sailor, you need a pool to cool off in and Oliver Alto made a pool the very curious shape. Well, it's the kind of free form attributable
I'd a sock, isn't it with curvy ends. The story goes that Thomas Church California, landscape architecture, design, the DNS garden went on a trip to Finland with his wife Betsy in nineteen, thirty, seven, Somehow they found out the address of Oliver Altos home and studio and got themselves there are major stock, the door architectural historian Mark tried again when the story goes also came out in his bathrobe invited the men and so Thomas Church and his wife, Betty and Other Alto and his first wife. I know all really headed off when they got to be good friends and it is. Possibly the case that out design for the Villa Maria and Itzhak shaped pool. Where does aid in his studio when Thomas Church was visiting Mighty was finished, thirty nine, but they were there, thirty, seven
Maybe it was on the drawing board some. Maybe there was no pool at the time I mean reaches just don't know, there's no way to verify it, but that's the story. Architects tell there's a book about the done, our garden. It's probably going to have a mention of the Villa Maria here. The story goes, the foremost church went back home. Then it was. Forty eight and when the Donald Garden was made so almost ten years after Then the DNS garden pool becomes famous hearing on magazine, covers and inspiring hundreds of imitators across southern California, and these hundreds of curvy by amorphous, pools, get emptied out in the drought in the nineteen seventies and inspire a whole new skate culture. And that culture inspired kids around the world like Yonah to take up skateboarding and skateboarding inspired Jana to become an architect, and now he has yeah, I'm the only discuss, part dishonour and Finland. He designs, Croatia's pools all
for Europe pools exclusively for skater. There's one big pool coming to the east side of Helsinki It's it's not really nice figure in something to be proud of. I think when you wanna says he's proud. He means that public scape parks and pools should be a source of civic pride, especially in Finland, where the annex to tease modern skateboarding began. I kind of use it ass, a job when, where we're out which gave part builders their users from states or Canada. Numb tried to claim skateboarding for having its roots in Finland Some say that our elders pool the Villa Maria wasn, fired by the soft bends and a finnish lake or may the outer was just excited about his ability to make wavy forms, since that kind of became his signature in his furniture and home where's, or
Now is maybe he was inspired by some other curvy pool somewhere else in the world that we don't know about. Aldo, didn't like to talk about his inspiration, right too much about it either. Although only talked about the birth of his ideas in an extended metaphor, about a fish in a stream, Architecture in its details are in some way all part of biology. Perhaps they are, for instance, like some big salmon or trout, they're not born fully grown there are even born in the sea or water where they normally live, thereby hundreds of miles away from their home grounds where the river is narrow, two tiny streams, just as it, it's time for a speck of respond to mature into a fully grown fish. So we need time for everything that develops and crystallizes in our world
of ideas so far this year, Ninety nine percent invisible was produces week by every twelve edited by Delaney Home mix. By refusing the music by Sean, Rio and melodious.
You producer, is Katy. Mingle. Critical stance is the digital director. The rest of the staff includes Emmett Fitzgerald Terror NASA and mean roman Mars. Your gratitude, this week to Michael Burnett, Mark Rodriguez, Jason, Reitman, Chris Funk and Adam Charles burn bomb in the Cultural Landscape Foundation. Francisco Garden designer Gabrielle Cameron, David Louis I'll, tell University and special Shout Andrew Norton? First working this idea, the archives sound was from the Vanderbilt University Archive and the nineteen seventy movie skateboard kings Finally, if you haven't seen Stacy Documentary, Dogtown, Z, boys, I'm actually kind of jealous of you, it's really good you can enjoy. We are
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.