The proposal takes inspiration from three key localised aspects of differing scales. The first scale refers to the local city grids of central Helsinki, the second to the edge that forms the peninsula that marks the metropolitan area of Helsinki and the third to the wider scale of the Finnish Landscape.
Like many of the major cities of the Baltic, one of the defining characteristics of the Helsinki peninsula is it’s reclaimed land. This artificial edge is a defining mark of inhabitation and industrialisation through port development over centuries. The geometry of this edge, with it a stark contrast to the meandering natural edge prior to inhabitation, lends itself to the creation of eight cross sections. These sections provide a formative sectional geometry for the museum and the interstitial sections between them are auto generated using computational techniques to form a continuous series of structural ribs in cross section. Each rib is formed from glue-laminated spruce trusses braced with spruce ply panels on either side.
The grid of central Helsinki is dominated by 2 intersecting rectilinear grids. The proposal borrows the orientation of one of these city grids to form the main gallery and internal volumes. These are arranged as internal ‘streets’ and ‘blocks’ making reference to the urban condition beyond.
Finland has more than 60,000 lakes and over 10% of the land mass is water. There are over 20,000 coastline islands. From the air the southern Finnish landscape can be as much water as it is solid land giving the appearance of a perforated or eroded landscape. The gallery volumes are deployed as eroding elements in the solid timber ribbed form and a perforated stainless steel surface wraps over the top half of the timber structure to form a roof skin.
As the port industry declines along the Helsinki peninsula the waterfront is transforming to a leisure space for the people of the city. To reinforce this changing condition it is proposed that the Museum is elevated from the ground level. This both creates a new public plaza space and exposes the timber underbelly of the building to the user as they arrive underneath.
The visitor ascends the building from the ground floor plaza by escalator into a large central longitudinal atrium to the upper floor foyer. The foyer incorporates a café and gives panoramic views of the harbour to the east and south.
The landscape of timber ribs is again experienced by the user in the exposed ceiling structure of internal spaces of the Museum. This is evident within the large central longitudinal atrium and the open foyer as well as the gallery spaces.
The exposed cross section of the building is glazed at the north and south to form open elevations giving views to the city northwards and the existing ferry port to the south.
The elevated building also permits ground level service access, limited parking and a vehicle drop off. It also permits views through the new public plaza from the city to the north.
South Harbour, Helsinki, Finland