Posts tagged with "Finland":

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Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki

A pink gecko scuttles across a psychedelic digital landscape, deftly navigating a tangled maze of drifting butterflies, waddling alligators, and a pair of pensive whales passing below. Stepping on any creature will result in its explosive demise, yet simply navigating the trippy environment renders such destruction inevitable. This sort of high-tech super-nature is par for the course in Japanese art collective teamLab’s immersive exhibitions but a first for Helsinki, Finland—and Amos Rex, the new art museum hosting the group’s first show in the Nordic region. The five-year, $64-million Amos Rex project was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstsamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum (RIP 1965–2017). The project involved both a $17-million facelift of Lasipalatsi, the "Glass Palace" built in central Helsinki in the 1930s by three Finnish architecture students for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics (which was postponed until 1952 due to the Second World War), as well as the construction of a new underground art museum particularly well-suited for new media and immersive installation art. Because Lasipalatsi was originally supposed to be temporary, its young designers received carte blanche, resulting in an ambitious Functionalist fun home that includes a cinema, restaurants, shops, and a backdoor public square surrounded by 19th-century neoclassical barracks. Almost destroyed in the 1980s but listed and restored in the 1990s when it reemerged with a glorious inner coat of pastels, the Glass Palace is a resilient building with a tumultuous past. JKMM have taken care to preserve much of this history, including its doors and windows, fitted furniture and movie seats, plus the first outdoor neon sign in Finland. The revitalized 550-seat art deco cinema and new film program will be the delight of many a cinephile, yet the most compelling aspect of Lasipalatsi—and where the old most energetically meets the new—is out back. Once the site of military parades, the historic public square has been transformed into a surreal lunar landscape, where a series of bulbous domes sporting large round windows now connects a veritable jungle gym of a plaza to an underground art hub. “I was sitting in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly a man with a stroller appeared right outside the window of our second-floor office,” grins Timor Riitamaa, the head of communications and marketing at Amos Rex. “That was when I realized the park was open.” Positioned somewhere between alien topography and an ancient lifeform, the textured concrete playscape is a total hit in Helsinki. Sunbathers, selfie-snapping teens, Instagram influencers, romping children, and even daredevil parents can be seen ascending the five volcano-like protrusions to peer down into the subterranean art world below. Within the museum, sliding butts, squished noses and photography wars are now as common a view as the art, which unfurls in a columnless 24,000-square-foot gallery space. Building underground is never easy, and for JKMM it involved burrowing through nearly 140,000 square feet of hard bedrock found right underneath the city’s surface. Their approach was slow but steady—and went largely unnoticed. The square closed in 2015 so that the architects could carry out miniature controlled explosions, timed for every four minutes so the Helsinki Metro system could run undisturbed. It was a teeth-gritting exercise, but little of that angst can be felt from the ethereal white staircase connecting Lasipalatsi to the new museum lobby below. Descending the stairs, a generous view out onto the square framing Lasipalatsi’s old columns beside new sci-fi domes is swallowed up by a cloud of soft lighting. Designed by Finnish company Doctor Design, the textured ceiling of pleated fabric shades diffuses light through rows of flower-like pendants. Tightly bundled together in a way that floats between surrealism and Finnish National Romanticism, the lights are a clear nod to Lasipalatsi’s heritage. The ceiling flower field yields to two large tunnels ending in angled circular skylights that peer out onto the public plaza some 20 feet above. One offers a significant view out onto the staircase of the old theatre, while the second was framed by the tiny hands and faces of several miniature onlookers during my visit. Futuristic circular benches are positioned directly below, seemingly at the ready for sky-gazers. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight,” confirms Freja Stahlberg, the project architect. The extent of the sculptural skylights’ magnetic effect on the public square above was a delightful surprise for both architect and museum. Back below ground, Massless, the inaugural exhibition by teamLab, echoes the world-making imagination of the architects. Four immersive installations make full use of JKMM’s revolutionary modular museum layout, realized through an acoustic-disk ceiling made from perforated aluminum and a wooden gridded floor below which “data, air, and power all flow,” according to the architect. The museum’s high-tech fixtures meet their match in the 137 projectors, motion sensor technology, and eight miles of cables that make up teamLab’s digital multiverse. The exhibition consists of fan favorites like Graffiti Nature as well as Vortex of Light Particles, a site-specific piece that involves an inverted waterfall seemingly bent on sucking visitors into an Anish Kapoor-like black hole that inhabits the main domed ceiling. Vortex is clearly the stuff of tripping nerds’ dreams (it was a hit among Silicon Valley tech bros at Pace in Palo Alto), while its dark dreamscape subverts the light-filled expectations of Amos Rex, proving the museum’s versatility. “Virtual reality isolates you in a virtual space. We are trying to bring everyone back to a physical space,” said teamLab member Nonaka Kazumasa. While Massless uses digital technology to bring its viewers closer to nature and each other, Amos Rex performs the larger function of bringing untraditional art experiences to Helsinki’s public in a spatially-sensitive and cost-effective way. It is a cunning answer to the city's future urban development plan that prioritizes inner-city densification, but Amos Rex should also be seen as a testament to the merits of building deeper and the informal spaces for public play that can bubble up to the surface.
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From two of the minds behind Hem, this Finnish company plans to reinvigorate furniture manufacturing

“I’ve worked with many designers over the years and I used to try to give my own input and opinions,” said design entrepreneur Stefan Mahlberg, of his latest venture, Aito. “Gradually I learned that it’s useless, because who am I to say what the consumer might want?”

Aito, the latest venture from Mahlberg and Cezary Górzyński, two of the minds behind Scandinavian design giants Flexhouse, Hem, and One Nordic, is an attempt to push the furniture industry forward by taking a step back. Aito, a Finnish word that appropriately translates to “genuine,” is a multifaceted brand that revolves around creating the highest quality product at the best value by leveraging the network of manufacturers and producers the team built through its previous companies.

On one level, independent designers and brands can work with Aito to produce virtually any furniture for any project. So, if a designer needs to furnish a hotel, retail store, or restaurant, he or she can utilize Aito to source the best materials and reliable factories to produce the necessary chairs, tables, or shelves—eliminating weeks of legwork and mitigating risk. That same furniture could then be for sale through Aito. “Projects are wasted opportunities to build interesting products and then make sure they are available,” explained Mahlberg. Already, Tom Dixon, Harri Koskinen, and Ateljé Sotamaa are confirmed to be working with Aito, as well as many others yet to be disclosed.

What makes Aito radically different from conventional high-design brands is the level to which it is focused on its clients. “The consumer will determine whether or not the product is interesting,” said Mahlberg. So while the company’s connections and its designers’ portfolios are universally impressive, “Many of these things have no relation to each other except that people want an authentic, well-made product—they are night and day in terms of design,” Mahlberg said. He went on to explain that while brands who represent Scandinavian design, like HAY, Muuto, and Hem, have “well-curated, nice collections, we also need a broader take on the aesthetic.”

On another level, Aito is working within Flexhouse and its in-house design teams to produce its own projects. Conveniently, Aito was able to move into Hem’s old Helsinki office-workshop after Hem was sold this past February. The industrial space already had many of the components that Aito needed: A paint shop, woodworking and metal working machinery, as well as CNC-milling, vacuum pressing, and upholstering capabilities.

With this setup, Aito has everything it needs to create prototypes, one-off furniture, and even run small series. Having purchased the rights to classic Finnish designers’ work, Aito will also use its new home to produce and sell legacy remakes of pieces by Ilmari Tapiovaara and Eero Aarnio. The plan, explained Mahlberg, is to reintroduce older models that he and his team feel will resonate with a broad audience.

The company will fully launch spring 2017, but a showroom is opening in Toronto this fall and furniture will begin to be sold at the end of this year.

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Hot stuff! Sauna located in a Finnish Burger King

Finland is well known for its saunas. In fact, such is the Finnish people's obsession for sweating it out that they have a sauna in every one of their embassies across the globe. The sauna's have even been dubbed as their "diplomatic secret weapon." In Helsinki, Finland's capital, sauna's appear to be becoming even more of a way of life, especially in the case of fast food restaurants. Designed by Fin Teuvo Loman—who is somewhat of a design celebrity in his homeland—a Burger King in Helsinki now has its very own sauna. Complete with wash facilities, dressing rooms, and wooden benches in the company's customary colors, visitors can enjoy their meal in the sauna located on the lower floor of the Mannerheimintie Burger King outlet. Servers from the restaurant even visit the sauna to take orders; the sauna can accommodate up to 15 bathers. According to the outlet's webpage, the venue is more suited to "private and business outings, birthdays and for watching major sporting events." Booking the sauna for three hours will set you back $285, though the price includes "exclusive" use of the sauna and lounge area, access to Burger King branded towels (for hire), cleaning services, seat covers, toiletries, and access to entertainment electronics. Bathers will also be given Burger King crowns to wear (though this isn't a requirement, sadly) and have the option of eating in or outside the sauna. In terms of the electronics, the sauna comes equipped with a 48” television, a nearby media lounge features stereo equipment and Playstation 4. A "premium" experience will grant bathers access to "royal" Burger King bathrobes. Tempted? Booking details can be found here. The sauna isn't just winning the hungry bathing public over either. This year, the sauna claimed third place in Euromonitor’s ‘2016 New Concepts in Foodservice Contest: Customization, Technology, and New Experiences,’ competition. “The concept takes the idea of a unique dining experience to an extreme, offering both entertainment and functionality for Finnish consumers who see saunas as an integral part of their local culture,” commented Euromonitor food service analyst Elizabeth Friend. “Saunas in Finland are taken frequently as social, health and wellness rituals, and it is not uncommon for friends and business associates to sauna together," she added. "In this way, Burger King’s in-store sauna offers a powerful example of localisation, demonstrating an understanding of local preferences while also offering customers the novelty experience of a sauna alongside their Whopper and fries.”
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Goth Bilbao: Moreau Kusunoki Named Winner of Guggenheim Helsinki Competition

Maybe its the extra darkness in the winter. The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, which famously generated an astounding 1,715 submissions, came to a conclusion today as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced the winner. Parisian firm Moreau Kusunoki Architectes and its “Art in the City” proposal was chosen from six international finalists. The design, which resembles a more austere, dark-but-not-quite-post-apocalyptic version of the Guggenheim Bilbao, “invites visitors to engage with museum artwork and programs across a gathering of linked pavilions and plazas organized around an interior street.” The Goth Bilbao in Helsinki is clad in charred local timber and glass. Nine volumes and a tower mimic waves and a lighthouse along the harbor, while a promenade meanders along the South Harbor’s waterfront and a pedestrian footbridge connects to the nearby park. “I extend the Guggenheim’s warmest congratulations to Moreau Kusunoki for having achieved the design goals of this competition with such elegance, sensitivity, and clarity,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “I also want to express our admiration and gratitude to the other five finalists and to all of the architects who participated in this competition.” Jury chair Mark Wigley, professor and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, said at the announcement that “Moreau Kusunoki has titled its proposal ‘Art in the City,’ a name that sums up the qualities the jury admired in the design,” he continued, “The waterfront, park, and nearby urban area all have a dialogue with the loose cluster of pavilions, with people and activities flowing between them. The design is imbued with a sense of community and animation that matches the ambitions of the brief to honor both the people of Finland and the creation of a more responsive museum of the future."
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One of these six firms will design the new Guggenheim Helsinki

Over 1,700 proposals were submitted in the Guggenheim Foundation’s open-call competition to design a new museum in Helsinki—and now, just six teams remain. In a statement, the competition’s 11-member jury said it shortlisted these schemes because they would each “expand the idea of what a museum can be.” The teams that made the cut are AGPS Architecture (Zurich, Los Angeles), Asif Khan (London), Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, Barcelona, Sydney), Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart), Moreau Kusunoki Architect (Paris), SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid, Western Australia). While the names of the teams have been unveiled, the six proposals are only known by individual registration numbers. Physical models of these plans will be produced in March and a single winner will be selected in June. But as AN reported earlier this fall, what happens next in Helsinki remains to be seen. This news comes as the Guggenheim makes a renewed push into the world of architecture. In November, the Foundation named Troy Conrad Therrien as its first-ever curator of Architecture & Digital Initiatives. He will likely play a significant role in the further rollout of this competition. You can read about the six finalists below, with descriptions courtesy of each team. For more on these proposals and what happens next, visit the competition's website. From the design team:
GH-76091181 comprises a ring of slender, sculptural towers faced with timber shingles, reminiscent of vernacular architecture, gathered around a cathedral-like central space. The towers, with their play of light and shadow, create an architectural beacon, visible by land or sea, while the central space, sheltered from extremes of weather yet part of the quayside, provides an exceptional new site for public events on the waterfront. Exhibition galleries are housed in timber cabinets stacked within the towers. Bridges connecting the towers offer respite space for visitors between experiencing art and offer new viewing points over the city and harbor.
From the design team:
GH-5631681770 reconfigures circulation and use of the East and West Harbors to establish an area of industrial activity and an area of cultural activity, with the museum as the link between the city and the waterfront. In a critical shift from the idea of a building as static object to a building that accommodates the flux of daily life, a city street runs through the interior of the museum, opening it to appropriation by the citizens and creating a combination of programs: a museum program and an unpredictable street program, in which visitors may become productive and creative users of the space.
From the design team:
GH-04380895 links the museum to the rest of the city through a pedestrian footbridge to Tähtitorninvuori Park and a promenade along the port, including a food hall and a market during the warm months. The museum programs are housed in pavilion-scale buildings treated as independent, fragmentary volumes within this landscape, allowing for a strong integration of outdoor display and event spaces with interior exhibition galleries. The ensemble is made to stand out from afar by being composed around a landmark tower. The use of charred timber in the facade evokes the process of regeneration that occurs when forests burn and then grow back stronger than before.
From the design team:
GH-121371443 drapes a skin of textured glass panels over a bar-like, two-story interior structure, creating an environmentally sustainable public space between the facade and the gallery volumes, with natural light diffused throughout. In an unusual innovation, the element that makes the building sustainable—the intelligent glass wrapper, which uses technology such as Nanogel glazing and rollable thermal shutters—is also the element that distinguishes the project visually, giving the building an ethereal presence. Within the building, an annex for the work of younger Nordic artists is paired with a market hall, and a service pavilion encloses a sculpture garden.
From the design team:
GH-1128435973 creates two facilities in dialogue with each other. The ground floor is an adaptive reuse of the existing Makasiini Terminal, conceived as a public space that extends the pedestrian boardwalk into the building. This is a place for education, civic activity, and incubating ideas. The second floor is an exhibition hall on stilts, which hovers above the terminal building, partly removed from everyday life. The long rectangular volume offers a flexible space for all types of exhibitions and adheres to the notion of a museum as a space apart. Through this dual scheme, the proposed museum could engage its public to co- create value and meaning.
 From the design team:
GH-5059206475 reuses the laminated wood structure of the Makasiini Terminal to rebuild a wooden volume that exactly follows the geometry of the original, and preserves the current views from the park and the adjacent buildings. Within this structure—essentially an undisturbed network of existing conditions—the project creates 31 rooms: eight of them measuring 20 x 20 m, 18 of them 6.5 x 6.5 m, four of them 10 x 10 m, and one 40 x 100 m. This rigid set of spatial conditions is combined with a deliberate distribution of climates based on the program and principles of sustainability, with each room acclimatized independently so that the galleries together form a 'thermal onion.'
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Lighting Designers Give New Life To an Abandoned Finnish Silo

Punctured and illuminated, an oil silo on the Helsinki coastline has been recast as a permanent art installation. Silo 468 was commissioned in part to commemorate the city's 2012 appointment as a World Design Capital. Madrid-based Lighting-Design Collective were brought to the Finish city for the drastic transformation project. A pattern of perforations coats the former silo. Horizontal bands of perforations wrap around the exterior, intersected by irregular vertical streaks whose path follows that of the patterns of rust that once consumed the metal exterior. By day sun pierces through to dapple the interior of the space with ever-shifting shadows. On the outside of the structure LED lights nestled in each opening produce shimmering effects that mirror the play of light on the surface of the surrounding water. Once night falls the building acts as a canvas for a dramatic light show generated by the area's prevailing winds, a move that is not without precedent in lighting design. The ebb and flow of this display is meant to recall the movements of flocks of birds that frequent the seaside location. Harnessed by custom software that responds to its environment, the organic engine driving the light shows means that no pattern will ever repeat itself. The red paint that coats the inside of the building tinges the light show in order to create a distinct viewing experience for visitors to the inside of the building. Located in Kruunuvuorenranta district, the 52 foot silo is visible from central Helsinki.
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Unveiled> BIG Hits the Slopes Again with New Resort in Finland

It's no mystery that Bjarke Ingels is a fan of mountains, but building craggy edifices hasn't been enough for the Danish leader of BIG. Now Bjarke has unveiled his firm's latest plans to incorporate "rooftop-skiing." He previously proposed the Hafjell Mountain Hotel in Norway in 2007 and more recently an imperiled Waste-to-Energy Plant in Denmark that appears to have stalled. The Danish firm's latest competition-winner is a 500,000-square-foot resort called Koutalaki Ski Village in the Lapland region of Finland, consisting of four landscaped buildings that double as ski slopes.
Overall View (Courtesy BIG)
Overall View (Courtesy BIG)
Ingels described the project as "grown from the natural topography rather than dropped from the sky." BIG's landscape-minded hybrid design "left the jury in awe," according to the Finnish developer Kassiopeia Finland Oy. The new manmade mountain is an extension to the existing framework provided by the Levi ski center. The new series of buildings will swirl out from the central square, touching the ground on both ends, enabling the skiers to descend in any direction from the rooftops. The resulting central plaza—which will be used for ice skating and music performances—will be sheltered and intimate, while at the same time open to the views of the surrounding landscapes. In the off season, the manmade landscapes will turn green, blending with the surrounding forest environment for picnics and hiking.
Building Model of Koutalaki Ski Village (Courtesy BIG)
Building Model of Koutalaki Ski Village (Courtesy BIG)