How do you negotiate an intervention between two historic buildings?
The extension to the Museum of Central Finland and the Alvar Aalto Museum serves as a unifying element for the complex, creating a harmonious integration of the existing buildings with the surrounding landscape and city. By introducing a new way of entering the two existing buildings through its landscaped approach, the new extension places the existing buildings and landscape into perspective.
Contrary to the brief, which asked for the shop to be situated above the storage space, the design for the new extension inverts this arrangement to place the storage space at the top and the shop at the bottom. The benefits of this is the shop connects the communal spaces of the two existing buildings, thus making circulation more ideal, as well as minimizing the need for expensive excavation. At night, the white opaque glass box on top becomes a beacon for the complex, turning the mundane storage space into a celebrated centrepiece. By raising the upper floor of the building to the same level as the Museum of Central Finland, the roof of that building could be turned into a roof garden, thus extending the landscape from the street onto the building.
The experience of the new building begins underneath a canopy, running alongside a reflecting pool. The façade of the Alvar Aalto Museum is reflected in the tranquil waters of the pool. At the end, a small passage leads into the front garden, opened to the public at all times of the day and creating a communal space within the cradle of the three buildings. Stepping inside the new extension, a large picture window frames another pool at the rear of the building, reflecting the Finnish landscape in its water to create a moment of tranquillity. By balancing the landscape, light and architecture together, the new extension pays tribute to the architecture of Alvar Aalto without resorting to direct imitation.