City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.



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’:

You can hear it at Myspace, or buy it here. And there's also an interview with Tuomas towards the end of the latest Monocle Weekly.


4 responses to “‘Urbanism in the House’, Tuomas Toivonen”

  1. Jack Self Avatar

    Saw Tuomas today as part of the first Ok. Talk. event at the Hel Yes! pop-up restaurant here in London. Really entertaining, I plan to do a write up on Millennium People later this week.


  2. Tezgah Avatar

    Very interesting blog.


  3. Jerry Avatar

    The band Expwy also released an album of urbanism-themed songs called Border Vacuums in kind of a lo-fi, Brazilian style. It’s quite good! Here’s their MySpace page:


  4. Leni Schwendinger Avatar

    Hilarious and serious all at once. Urban issues are being explored in so many media and methods… Here at Light Projects we are concerned with the urban nighttime environment –,
    Writing about it…
    and walking about it (in our movie Night City)
    and sharing it–


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