The open international architecture competition aimed to find an architecturally interesting solution to support the characteristics of the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland.

Studio name: Olla Architecture (previously Parviainen Architects – the office changed its name in January 2023)
Design team: Antti Hakonen, Terhi Isokuortti, Jyri Jernström, Mikko Lahikainen, Miika Liukka, Anna Markkula, Helmi Mälkönen, Jani Ristimäki, Miguel Santos, Tea Ellala, Salla Tervo, Bratislav Toskovic, Caius Verhe
Area: 5885 gross m2
Location: Tampere, Finland
Image credits: Olla Architecture

Sara Hildén Art Museum by Olla Architecture - Sheet2
©Olla Architecture

The museum displays works included in the Finnish and international modern and contemporary art collections of the Sara Hildén Foundation, and changing exhibitions of Finnish and international art. Our entry “Ester”, named after the middle name of the museum’s founder, received an honorary mention. With 472 proposals, the competition was one of the most popular architectural competitions ever organized in Finland.

Sara Hildén, the founder of the museum, lived an extraordinary life full of contrast, rising from poverty to one of the most remarkable art patrons of her time. She was a strong but silent woman who wanted attention for the art she collected, not for herself. With its impressive yet serene appearance, our proposal “Ester” follows the attitude of the woman behind the art museum. Similar to the life and story of Sara Hildén, the impressiveness of our entry is based on contrast. Straight lines are combined with round shapes and shiny facade with softer materials. The rooms filled with natural light circle the more closed exhibition spaces. The eastern side of the building rests firmly on the ground, while the western end floats gently in the air.

Sara Hildén Art Museum by Olla Architecture - Sheet3
©Olla Architecture

The museum is located in the middle of the triangle between Finlayson’s palace, the headquarters, and the church. At the axis connecting the palace and the office, the art building bends, creating an an impressive space that enables experiencing familiar surroundings in a new way.

The new museum is situated in an area known for its textile factories. The old industrial milieu offers a unique environment for the modern museum building. The museum and existing industrial surroundings form a strong bond. The new building doesn’t take over the old but offers a new perspective to the 200-year-old area.

©Olla Architecture

Although the museum is moving away from its original location, it is also – in a way – returning to its roots. For Sara Hildén, the textile industry was both a career and the enabler of her patronage. Now the art museum is moving to the place where fiber was once turned into cloth and cloth into clothing.

Sara Hildén was a silent yet strong woman. Through her art collection she opened paths to other worlds but never longed for attention herself. With its impressive but serene appearance, our proposal “Ester” pursues the same: to serve as a bridge to the world of art.


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