Art provokes thought, emotion and countless interpretations, reinventing itself with each viewer. The new Sara Hildén Art Museum is the embodiment of human relationship to art: a thoughtful architectural provocation with many layers and peels of exploration. Much like how art opens up our minds to new thoughts, the building evolves from a calm structure that blends in, into many layers of openness that invites the people of Tampere. It bends the notion of a conventional museum and embraces change, becoming a destination for the current and inspiration for the future.
Project Name: Sara Hildén Contemporary Art Museum
Studio Name: SOUR
The definition of a museum is “an institution in the service of society and its development” (ICOM). Future-proofing a museum means creating a place that grows and evolves for, and with, society. In an ever-changing world, and with the growing issues around climate change, inclusion, equity, and digitization, museums need to now open up and collaborate with their audiences, they must catalyze education, and create inspiration. As custodians of culture and visionaries for change, it is essential that they balance conservation and disruption, safety and freedom, divergence and adaptation, information and inception.
How might we create a destination that is inspired by art, informed by the city, inclusive of all and equipped for the future?
The New Sara Hildén Museum
“Much bending breaks the bow; much unbending the mind.” – Francis Bacon
Art moves us beyond our primal needs. It provokes thought, emotion and countless interpretations, reinventing itself with each viewer. The proposed design for The new Sara Hildén Art Museum is the embodiment of human relationship to art: a thoughtful architectural provocation with many layers and peels of exploration. Much like how art opens up our minds to new thoughts, the building evolves from a quiet structure that blends in, into many layers of openness that invites the people of Tampere and the world at large. It bends the notion of a conventional museum and embraces change, becoming a destination for the current and inspiration for the future.
Continually adapting and changing, the layers of the museum morph like life itself. Integrating the current and honoring it while making spaces for the future, this museum embodies the spirit of evolution. The peeling back of traditional structures creates spaces of expression that serve as a melting pot for different people and ideas to come together. Prioritizing placemaking, a process by which we can shape our public spaces in order to maximize shared value, the museum’s layers facilitate creative patterns of use. Different choices are given to the audience to allow them to explore and wander, daring them to change, transform, adapt, and reinvent – like a caterpillar emerging a butterfly from its cocoon.
The proposal prioritizes human-experience, while taking the urban and environmental goals of the city of Tampere and vision of the Sara Hildén Foundation into account. While the proposed design is informed by diverse subjects such as architecture, sustainability, circularity, environmental psychology, accessibility and inclusion, it is inspired by the creative and complex nature of art itself.
The Urban Context
While the streetscape of the proposed main building and annex building are calm and respectful of their historical location in Finlayson, the park side of the main building opens up and bends into the greenscape. The form embraces the urban pedestrian flow from the North end and allows the flow to continue through the central, enclosed public axis that accesses Finlaysoninkatu. The bending layers on the North end elevate the park experience by offering various public uses – including cafe dining, educational workshops and continuation of the green on terraces. The public amenities and flexible open layouts of the space bring transparency into the museum processes, making it more collaborative with the people of Tampere.
The building further integrates into the area by preserving the trees on site, maintaining similar height with surrounding buildings and utilizing local materiality such as brick and wood. The museum is designed to seamlessly blend into the city, while also creating a cultural landmark to become an international destination for contemporary art.
The proposed layouts for the new Sara Hildén Art Museum and its surroundings are designed in consideration of diverse programming such as visual and performing arts, multimedia experiences, in-person and digital educational programs for children and young adults, research collaborations with universities and other cultural institutions, rooftop events, and workshops for artists and general public. With its multi-purpose open spaces, public and private rooms, in-door and out-door areas, the museum becomes a dynamic destination that collaborates with its audience.
The internationally renowned collection of local, national and international modern and contemporary pieces will be displayed in varying-height galleries and can spill over to the lot across the street and the park for public engagement. The rectangular layouts of exhibition rooms and potential exhibition areas are designed to be flexible and dynamic, allowing for different user journeys.
Sustainability, Circular Economy and Well-being
The new Sara Hildén Art Museum is informed by measures of sustainability, circular economy and well-being. The building is mindful of reducing waste and carbon emissions, by factoring in its construction, life-time and deconstruction if necessary. The facades of the main building on the street end and the entire annex building, is planned to be built with recycled brick, sourced from Tampere. The facade on the park side is planned to be built with Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) of local spruce trees, glued together with non-hazardous glue. The use of wood will support our goal to minimize carbon emission, through carbon sequestration even prior to the construction of the building. The preservation of the trees on site will also help in reducing carbon footprint. As for insulation, both buildings will utilize 250 mm mycelium as a natural isolation material. The green roof of the building has a designated location for rainwater capture for onsite usage.
Our proposal promotes well-being and health, through interior interventions such as access to sunlight, use of natural materials, natural air ventilation through the main atrium, access to green terraces and park, and stress-reducing lighting fixtures. It also encourages physical motion and exercise through varias pedestrian access and bicycle parking points. The building’s main energy and technical storage – located on the lot across – will be eco-efficient and respectful to the environment, and contributes to the building’s Green Factor and Tampere’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The construction of the building utilizes local and familiar materiality and techniques for Finland. This enables collaboration with the local network, which is both environmentally friendly and cost-efficient. The proposal eliminates the need of a basement for the main building, by placing the technical requirements of the building in the annex building across the lot, which will also cut construction cost significantly.
The building height is respectful of local surroundings while providing ease during construction as well, which is enabled by varying ceiling heights between 3.5 m – 8 m, allowing for flexible exhibition and open spaces.
SOUR bio: SOUR is a hybrid design studio, addressing social and urban problems through sustainable and inclusive methodologies.
“SOUR” encompasses their mission to take on social and urban issues, but also describes their attitude. SOUR does not shy away from challenges and we embrace discomfort. Like sourdough making, they take our time to research, synthesise and ideate in order to generate data-inspired, purposeful, and culture-specific design solutions. SOUR believes the world has spent enough time sugar coating — It’s time we get real, confront uncertainty, and be SOUR.