Methodology and criteria. In compliance with the competition’s brief, the solutions proposed are the result of a logical process based both on formal values and feasibility, as well as the evolution of the meaning of contemporary museum spaces when considered in relation to the unique condition of the existing museum and, above all, the relationship with the beautiful natural context.
The main criteria of our design decisions have been: the appreciation of the site values; the interpretation of the morphological and architectural features of Joanniemi Manor; functional quality of the new spaces; attention to environmental sustainability and technological innovation; attention to construction costs and management.
As a result, the design of the extension of the existing Museum has been developed in terms of its relationship with nature and the existing architecture, the aim being to outline a new organic, well-structured, and unitary system.
Architecture and nature. By excluding the possibility of building on Taavetinsaari, Joenniemi Manor – the “home-museum” – is at the centre of the new system. Joanniemi Manor is its origin, projecting and maintaining its classical axiality to structure the new extension.
The plan of the new system maintains the axiality of Joanniemi Manor and its projection toward Lake Melasjärvi – represented by the garden designed by Paul Olsson – overturning it onto the new office block. The same axis, shifted eastward, organizes the foyer and the new large exhibition wing to the north.
The new plan combines the Cartesian geometry of the block adjacent to Joanniemi Manor with the distinct wave of the linear block to the north. The forecourt in front of Joanniemi Manor becomes a C-shaped courtyard organized on two levels, with a clear reference to A. Aalto, not only for its closeness to Jyväskylä. Thanks to the slight waviness, both in plan and in section, the linear volume gently leads the visitor into the heart of the new system. A glass-paned “transept”, which is passed through to reach the patio or which can be followed to enter the museum, serves as the connecting foyer for the entire museum complex.
The general plan is open, organized, and compact. It enhances what already exists, reproposes what has been lost – the arrangement of the forecourt in front of Joanniemi Manor – and introduces new spatial values by building not edifices, but spaces for people, designed in a close relationship with the natural and architectural context.
Every window of Joanniemi Manor opens onto the lake or the park. Wherever possible, every window of the new buildings will open toward the lake, toward Taavetinsaari, toward the trees. Actually the windows are large glass surfaces that enhance the visual relationship with the natural scenery, creating a peculiar interior-exterior relationship.
This relationship is evident in the foyer – a relationship space par excellence – organized on three levels and entirely open toward Joanniemi Manor, forming a transparent filter between old and the new. Its “prow”, extending toward the water, is a vibrant naval reference which also symbolizes the “launching” of the new museum. On the 2nd level, the foyer opens onto the restaurant, which is also totally transparent and open with its terraces toward Taavetinsaari.
In our project, the relationship with nature becomes a special feature of the exhibition spaces. Such a fascinating nature deserves more than the usual “white cube” that cancels any relationship with the outside.
Our spaces, obviously protected from the sun’s rays, feature openings or long cuts that frame the landscape. In particular, in Travelling Exhibition 1, the openings toward the east and the low cut to the south confirm the characteristics of a “museum in the park”. But also in the Collection, the entire glass wall toward the east frames the view of Taavetinsaari. New tree plantings, carefully arranged together with movable birchwood screens, protect the works from the direct sunlight, up to a total closing. Not only nature: a diffuse horizontal light fills the museum space. In both exhibition rooms, suitably designed skylights optimize the southern sunlight – always reflected at least twice – and the diffused northern light.
Historically, architecture establishes its strongest relationship with the place through the materials used. Today, this tie is no longer a necessity, but a choice. In our case the material could only be wood. So the issue is how to use it.
In our design timber “melts” with glass. It is our interpretation to combine the best developed products of technological innovation, capable of high performance and controlled transparencies, with timber, which is the first of all traditional materials.
The new buildings’ skin is thus a glass box – double or single panel – nestled in the surrounding nature, which will be reflected on its external surface. Where required by functional needs, the second wall will consist of wood panels. The colour and light veins of the birch wood will give the new volumes a deep, refined materiality thus evoking the place and personal history of the founder’s and his family.
Building features. The extension, the Joanniemi Manor, the smaller buildings, and the park will form the new museum system. The structured relationship with Joenniemi Manor has already been described. In perceptive and material terms, the light elegance of the glass/wood shell of the new buildings will relate without arrogance, with the red bricks of the house.
From the foyer to the various levels, from the open court, from the offices, numerous viewpoints – carefully arranged – will offer fascinating perspectives of the old building.
The relationship with the smaller wood and stone buildings is entrusted to the arrangement of the park and the functions and facilities that will be assigned to each building. A special role is played in the system by the “garage”, which will be used for the sauna, in consideration of its adjacency with offices and other facilities.
The extension. Our project is particularly mindful of the dimensional relationship between the extension and Joanniemi Manor. The relationship with the building also defines the height of the new buildings, equal to that of the large roof. Once the maximum height is established, the occupation of the ground area is the least possible thanks to the decision to put underground, below the forecourt – the highest area of the site – all the storage and property management facilities. The Museum Pedagogy and the shop are also situated under the forecourt, but thanks to the open court on two levels, these areas will receive air and light, as well as enjoying an excellent view of the new trees.
The direct link. The functional connection between the foyer and Joanniemi Manor is achieved by the intersection of the historic axes. The axis of symmetry of Joanniemi Manor, shifted eastward, organizes the development of the foyer. Coinciding with the building’s longitudinal axis, our project envisages, on the three levels, three connections studied in relation to the visiting itineraries. In particular, from the third level of the foyer – after going through the Collection room – one reaches the 2nd floor, continuing the viewing of the permanent exhibition, then descending to the lower floor with the lovely existing staircase. After visiting this floor, a second glass-paned connection will lead the visitor back to the foyer.embodies a spatial experience. As he ascends, the visitor will appreciate the view of the lake and the Olsson park, but more the glass box suspended between the foyer and Joanniemi Manor will be an extraordinary observation point, exalted by the short, totally closed stretch leading to the building. Of course seating places will be provided for a pleasant brief pause.
The basement of Joanniemi Manor is also connected to the first level of the foyer. In addition to the service facilities, it will be possible to gain access to visit the wine cellar. Of course all the connections may be taken in either direction, depending on the arrangements preferred by the Museum Management.