Extension to connect the Aalto Museum and Museum of Central Finland
Jyväskylä, Finland

(Competition project, 2015)

This project responds to a brief to make a small commercial space that acts as a connector between two existing museums in Jyväskylä – the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland. The proposal takes the form of an interior landscape, which allows movement between the offset floor levels of the two museums to take place in a dynamic and variable way. Its topography is formed by a structural plate, which acts as a bridge between the existing buildings. This sets up a complex surface that then receives an array of cabinets. These furniture elements appear as miniature pieces of architecture within the space, presenting the objects that are for sale in the shop. All this is then covered with a minimal glass envelope that in turn acts as a display case that exhibits the interior. Finally, above this sails an overhanging canopy, which forms a sunshade and shelters the glass below from excessive snow loading.

In the exterior space below the extension, a new public route is opened up, alongside the watercourse that runs beside the Aalto museum. Walking from Ruusupuisto square, the public can pass under the extension and then up the hillside via a new access route that runs along the front of the retaining wall, receiving natural light from above. This is a vibrant and coloured space, clad with a richly patterned enamel surface that forms the inner skin of the canopy and folds out onto the ground surface below. In winter and at night, light spilling out from the vitrine above illuminates the canopy, bathing the space in a warm reflected glow.

The new public area below the extension can be used as an external sheltered terrace for the café and as an outdoor display space. With this in mind, the new storage area at the lower level is designed so it can also function as a protected display space, visible to café users or passing members of the public. The aim is to make this a delightful route across the campus.

Architecturally, the new shop area appears as a zone of spatial intensification within the buildings. It works with architecturally scaled furniture to produce a spatial configuration that invites exploration and that allows Alvar Aalto’s product designs and related items to be displayed in an individuated and sophisticated way. Rotatable partitions permit the space to be reconfigured in various forms – to organise flows through it, for example, in the case of evening lectures or similar events. The relatively low ceiling height, which is a consequence of the relation between the existing buildings, is relieved by the glass roof, through which views of the enamelled canopy interior above can be seen.

The topographic plate is of polished concrete, into which are set areas of terrazzo, inlaid stone, and hardwood strip flooring. The cabinets are finely constructed of Finnish woods and glass. These are then covered with a thermally efficient glass envelope, detailed with minimal structure (intermediate support for spans can be hidden in the cabinet elements). The canopy is a steel construction with a metal roof and an enamelled interior skin. Melt water from the snow it catches drains into the watercourse to one side of the new public route.


Digital model: Aikaterini Antonopoulou

Detailed physical model: Richard Collins