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Competition: National Museum of Finland

An international contest has been announced for a major addition to the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki (Deadline: 4 April)

The two-stage competition seeks ‘aesthetically, technically and economically sustainable and feasible’ proposals to extend the historic 1916 complex, which features exhibitions on the history of Finland showing coins, medals, weapons and other archaeological finds.

The project, backed by the State of Finland’s property division Senate Properties, will create a new partially submerged wing capable of hosting touring international exhibitions and conferences, connected to the Finnish National Romantic-style building which is next to Alvar Aalto’s 1971 Finlandia Hall.

National Museum of Finland

National Museum of Finland

Source: Image by Solis Invicti

National Museum of Finland

In its brief, the competition organisers say the new building will allow ‘the production of large and demanding international exhibitions at the National Museum.

‘In addition to exhibitions, modular spaces [should be] suitable for a wide range of cultural, artistic and leisure events, conferences and events. The main building of the National Museum with its terrace is also located in the annexe.’

The National Museum of Finland opened in 1916 one year before the country won its independence from Russia. The building was designed by architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, and Eliel Saarinen in a National Romantic style featuring Art Nouveau interiors.

The new annex will increase the museum’s capacity for hosting major exhibitions and allow a larger number of people to use the building at any time. The new facility will feature flexible exhibition spaces capable of hosting installations, performances and conferences; a shop; resturant; toilets; staff area; workshops and dressing room for performers.

Judges include Senate Properties chief operating officer Juha Lemström; the director general of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, Riitta Kaivosoja; City of Helsinki architect Janne Prokkola; and Elina Anttila, director general of the National Museum of Finland. 

Applications may be in Finnish or Swedish and the competition has a €220,000 prize fund.The overall winner will receive a minimum €80,000 prize and teams participating in the second phase will each receive a €12,500 honorarium.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 3pm local time, 4 April

Contact details

Johanna Virsu
Senate Properties
Lintulahdenkatu 5 A
Helsinki
00530
Finland

Tel: +358 407679199
Email: johanna.virsu@senaatti.fi

View the contract notice for more information

Maidstone Museum East Wing case study: Q&A with Hugh Broughton

The director of Hugh Broughton Architects discusses lessons learned extending the Maidstone Museum in Kent, England

How did your project create a landmark addition to Maidstone Museum?

The design of the East Wing reoriented the entrance of Maidstone Museum towards the town centre, making the building more visible to passers by and embedding it in the cultural life of the town. The core of the building is a 1561 Manor house. In 1855 it was acquired by the Town Council, converted to its current use and subsequently extended to provide space for new galleries and stores. The design of the East Wing combines new building and refurbishment and responds to the multi layered history, proportions and context of the existing building.

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Source: Image by Hufton+Crow

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Through manipulation of levels, three floors have been added to the service wing where elsewhere there are two, helping to conceal plant rooms and toilets. A light filled entrance leads to the shop, education spaces and an orientation gallery. At first floor a glazed room provides views onto neighbouring gardens. A gallery lit by north lights provides a home for the Museum’s exquisite Japanese Collection. The extensions are clad in handmade gold copper alloy shingles and structural glazing, providing a crafted, contemporary counterpoise to the older parts of the building. The sustainability strategy combines passive and active measures to reduce energy costs and carbon production whilst maintaining ideal environmental conditions for display of fine art.

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Source: Image by Hufton+Crow

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

What advice would you give to contest participants on extending the Finnish National Museum?

Extending historic buildings, which lie at the centre of a town’s cultural life, requires care and sensitivity. It is important to take time to understand the host building and let it speak to you. In this way additions can reinforce the forms, materials and proportions of the original building, contributing a new layer of history. Simultaneously the building must provide the best possible conditions for the display and conservation of the collections, harnessing natural light and providing easy visitor flow from space to space. It’s the ultimate form of knitting – linking old and new together in a harmonious whole, which unlocks the past to create a vibrant future.

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

Source: Image by Hufton+Crow

Maidstone Museum East Wing by Hugh Broughton Architects

 

Q&A with Elina Anttila and Juha Lemström

The director general of The National Museum of Finland and the chief operating officer Senate Properties discuss their ambitions for the competition

Elina Anttila and Juha Lemström

Elina Anttila and Juha Lemström

Elina Anttila and Juha Lemström

Why are your holding an international contest to expand the Finnish National Museum?

Anttila: The National Museum of Finland is the central national cultural history museum in Finland. It has the oldest and largest collections of cultural history in the country, including the most important Finnish historical and ethnographical materials and unique cultural collections from around the world. The Museum’s exhibition program, combined with a wide range of events and learning activities, explores new horizons in the Finnish identity and its global operating environment.

The current museum building has limited potential for facilitating the increasingly diverse operations required by the duties of the National Museum. Modern museum activities incorporate flexibility and variety in organising events, and this cannot be achieved in the current premises of the National Museum. Moreover, the museum building does not have spaces to accommodate a large number of visitors at once. Building the annex is essential for facilitating exhibitions that meet modern standards. The annex is also hoped to enable completely new operating models and to evolve into a meeting place for a wide variety of communities and audiences.

Lemström: State of Finland / Senate Properties have a policy to arrange architectural competitions when the state is going to build something important for the future. From the beginning it was obvious that a competition for the new building for Finnish National Museum will be arranged.

According to us this is the right way to find the best solution (including architecture) for the project and to get the best designers for the project. The competition jury will get several different kind of approaches and the jury has a real possibility to choose between different kinds of proposals

Finlandia Hall and National Museum of Finland

Finlandia Hall and National Museum of Finland

Source: Image by Marit Henriksson

Finlandia Hall and National Museum of Finland

What is your vision for the new annex building?

Anttila: The annex will facilitate the hosting of extensive and demanding international exhibitions at the National Museum. In addition, the new premises will be adaptable to a variety of cultural, arts and leisure events, conferences and other functions.

Together, the new annex, the current museum building with its long term exhibitions, and the courtyard park – available for civic and corporate events around the year – will form a unique complex in the heart of Helsinki.

Supporting cultural change ecologically, socially and culturally in the interests of building a thriving society has become an increasingly important duty of the Museum. The annex will symbolise the power of culture as an engine of change and the building of a national identity on a multicultural value base, combined with a shared responsibility for the future. As a manifestation of today’s image of Finland, the new annex will be built in keeping with the requirements of clean environment technology, sustainable construction and ecological considerations.

New annexe programme

New annexe programme

New annexe programme

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Lemström: The first stage of the competition shall be open to all citizens of Member States of the European Union and of countries governed by EU procurement legislation, in accordance with currently valid treaties and legislation. For the second stage of the competition, the jury shall select 2 to 5 entries of the highest quality and with the greatest potential from the entries qualifying for the first stage.

For the second stage, the entrant, at least one member of the design team, must have the qualification required in Finland for a principal designer and architect in charge. This is a good possibility for architects and designers to make their names – even if they do not win the competition. The best proposals will be published with text and illustration in ‘architectural competitions’ in Arkkitehti magazine (possibly in other magazines also).

Are there any other recent national museum expansion projects you have been impressed by?

Anttila: Impressive museum architecture projects, also extensions to existing historical buildings, have been realised in Europe in recent years. References can also be found among other public spaces, created for urban events and cultural services or restaurants and open for different communities. Subterranean architecture is interesting nowadays, and the new annex of National Museum of Finland will be mostly underground. Theoretically close to our project is the National Museum of Switzerland in Zurich (Landesmuseum), since the old museum building is planned on the same principles than the National museum in Helsinki and it is from the same period. It is also located in the city centre and in the park. The old building and the park is protected as a cultural heritage. As every case is very different, we would rather not underline any specific examples in this context.

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