Alvar Aalto Museum Extension

This was a competition to propose a new link space for a museum space between two museums in Jyväskylä, in Finland – both designed by the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. According to the competition brief, this new link space was to connect the ground floor of the Museum of Central Finland to the first floor of the Alvar Aalto Museum, via a ramp. After close study of the existing situation, we proposed a radical yet appropriate alternative.

Currently, circulation around and between the two museums is complex, unclear, and not always universally accessible. We proposed that the new link space could join together more than two floors – in our scheme, a long ramps links the every floor of the Alvar Aalto Museum with the two key floors of the Museum of Central Finland. This ramp knots both buildings tightly together in an organic swirl. This is an organic architecture derived from simple needs, an echo of Aalto’s spirit.

The ramp that we propose wraps itself around the new shop, serving as both circulation

and façade. It peels lightly off from the side of the Aalto museum, continuing the axis created by the stepped pools. This movement carries the lowest part of the ramp under the coils of the ramp above, creating a sheltered porch space overlooking a set of landscaped terraces, inspired by Aalto’s stepped pools. The ramp then spirals inwards as it rises, enclosing the space inside and deferring to the great building on either side.

The ramp that we propose has no start or finish point, as it serves to facilitate connection between the disparate spaces of the two museums. At the top – the exhibition level of the Museum of Central Finland – the ramp reinstates Aalto’s original entrance to the museum. From here, it spirals downward to brush gently against the Aalto museum, and allow access to the exhibition floor. The ramp continues to the entrance floor of the Museum of Central Finland, at which level it opens onto the shopfloor, and then continues downward to join the Café Alvar at the entrance level of the Aalto museum. A revolving door allows exit from the shop to the terraces outside.

Taking cues from the patterns of Aalto’s façades, our building is screened by a forest of timber fins that front either solid panels or glazed panes, creating a rhythm of open and closed that also dapples the light that passes through to the centre. The shop itself sits under a roof pierced by a large oculus rooflight, like an island in a Finnish lake. A single ramp and a single central space thus create a multiplicity of subtle spaces that both serve Aalto’s works and express their own integrities.

Location : Jyväskylä, Finland
Client : Alvar Aalto Foundation / City of Jyväskylä
Sector : Cultural
Area :  640 sqm
Status: Competition