Sara Hildén Art Museum

International competition for new art gallery, Tampere, Finland. 2020

An exedra is a semi-circular architectural recess. Our proposal presents two such spaces; one offering a generous welcome from the public realm while addressing the square opposite with its new kiosk and entrance to the underground parking and framing the existing trees at this point of Finlaysoninkatu. The other allows the sculpture garden beyond to enter the territory of the art museum. The interior between these exedrae is a dynamic and transparent space which allows a direct view from street to garden through a field of concrete columns compressing the space between square and park and drawing all three places – park, foyer, square – into a new public concourse for Tampere. The constantly shifting nature of these forms as one moves through the foyer gives a lightness which belies the mass of building above.

View from street
Foyer interior with stone floor, concrete fluted columns and concrete vaulted ceiling
Ground floor plan

The building volume is a composition in pale red brick with a monumentality which allows it to sit happily among its older industrial neighbours. Corner pavilions allow the West of the building to approach Kuninkaankatu at a scale more akin to the lower buildings across the street. A boardmarked concrete band helps to express a base which grounds the volume while delineating ground floor functions from the suites of galleries on the upper floors. The relatively abstract volume, large expanses of beautiful blank brickwork with few, very large window openings announce this building as a museum; an urban artefact, to quote Aldo Rossi. This is a building of real materials, stacked and poured in place.

Urban space is not only a matter of quantity but of quality, form and emphasis. Our proposal balances the monumental and the transparent, the artificial and the natural, by means of the familiar architectural forms of the enveloping exedrae and the totemic columns. The garden exedra opens its arms to the park while the Finlaysoninkatu exedra invites visitors off the street and into the world of the museum. Furthermore, the curved forms and large windows facing the park echo those of the residential palace across the park.

Gallery interior looking through to foyer in poché of exedra