Winning design for Tampere’s Sara Hildén Art Museum is rooted in tradition

Place: Tampere, Country: Finland


The winning design for Tampere’s Sara Hildén Art Museum is rooted in tradition

After a long wait, on March 20, 2021, the winner of the architecture competition of the new Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland, has been finally disclosed.
Started in August 2020, the competition was a huge success, with 460 design teams from all over the world submitting an entry.
The purpose of the competition was to find a design for the new home of the Sara Hildén Museum of modern and contemporary art, which is currently housed in a late-1970s construction. The new museum will be located in Finlayson, a former industrial area in Tampere mostly consisting of several, pretty austere, historic brick buildings.
The competition brief included a number of requirements for the new museum, including demonstrating a respectful approach to the industrial past of the area and the existing architecture. Yet, two key points seemed especially important: 1) the capability of the new museum to establish a strong relationship with the public space and to further push Finlayson as Tampere’s main cultural and leisure district 2) to incorporate innovative solutions aimed at the creation of a dynamic contemporary museum capable to hosts from two to three changing exhibition each year in highly flexible gallery spaces.


above and cover-image: Janne Hovi, Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland. Exterior views

Lumen Valo”, the winning proposal by the young Finnish architect Janne Hovi, is certainly a high-quality project that respectfully fits into the context; the architect’s decision to design a two-story museum with strongly sloped roofs resulted in a well proportioned and “in scale” building. Yet, once built, the winning design will hardly have a great impact on the use and character of the area, which is de facto the historic center of Tampere. For example, the quarter is the location of popular cultural events, such as the Finlayson Art Area Summer exhibition during which artworks are installed in various public places throughout the neighborhood. It would have been possible, therefore, to imagine the new museum as a flexible building that could be opened, maybe partially, on the outside in Summer. On the contrary, the sequence of introflected spaces of Lumen Valo does not seem to seek a relationship with the surroundings, neither with the street to the south nor with the public park to the north.
Comprising three levels, one of which underground, the rectangular plan of the building occupies the whole lot and consists of ten squares, separated by circulation corridors, that, seen from the outside, become a sequence of slightly staggered boxes.
The use of natural light, which enters the first floor of the museum through a series of large openings, is definitely one of the most interesting aspects of the winning design. Though, the very regular layout of the winning design, for example in the entrance hall and in the galleries, could result in internal spaces not very flexible and hard to reconfigure.



Janne Hovi, Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland. Site plan and ground floor plan.

We report below an excerpt from the competition organizer’s statement:
The competition entry Lumen Valo takes into account, by simple means, both the values related to the history of the Finlayson area and the starting points of the surrounding area and the requirements of the art, says the chair of the jury, Deputy Mayor Jaakko Stenhäll.
The chain of exhibition halls that are proportionate and utilize natural light in a beautiful manner constitute an experimental architectural entity and an appropriate environment for viewing artworks, the evaluation minutes state.
According to the jury, aesthetics that fit the spirit of the Finlayson industrial area and Sara Hildén Art Museum is captured in the subtle design of the winning competition entry Lumen Valo. In its matter-of-factness, it relates to the historical architecture of the construction site. Throughout the long history of the Finlayson area, its buildings have been built gradually and in a natural manner based on the needs of the purpose. Lumen Valo continues this tradition.”


Janne Hovi, Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland. Exterior view


Janne Hovi, Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland. Interior view of the first floor


Janne Hovi, Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland. Interior view of the ground floor

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