Helsinki Reveals Its New Design Museum, Amos Rex ⇒ The Finnish capital of Helsinki has unveiled its new and exciting design museum that’s located underground. Located on the Lasipalatsi Square, the Amos Rex stands out for its five concrete windowed domes scattered through the square. The project started in 2013, when the Amos Anderson Art Museum started searching for a new space to expand from their 1920s-era office tower.
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The new 23,500-square-foot space, that opened on August 30th, was designed by Helsinki’s JKMM architecture firm. The $57 million structure boasts a maze of underground exhibition rooms, without any pillars but with skylights providing a serious wow factor. Above ground, the skylights appear to be island-like mounds in the urban square, which passersby can climb onto for epic selfies. The skylights also have windows that allow people aboveground to peek down into the exhibition space, sparking curiosity about the art that lies below.
The project started in 2013 when the Amos Anderson Art Museum started searching for a new space. For decades, they’d been in a 1920s-era office tower that didn’t have great lighting to showcase art, and were looking to expand. They set their sights on the Bio Rex, Helsinki’s iconic modernist film theatre, which was first built in 1936 to host the Helsinki Olympics.
The theatre itself was too small to host a sprawling contemporary art museum, so Asmo Jaaksi, the leading architect at JKMM, came up with the idea to build the museum 20 feet under the square adjacent to the theatre. “The only free space was this open square,” said Jaaksi last week in a walk through the museum. “Building underground was the only option, but I think it works quite well because the exhibitions have natural light.”
Underground museums need more than just windows for daylight; they need them to make a statement aboveground so they don’t go unnoticed. “The biggest challenge was how to make it visible in the cityscape,” said Jaaksi. “We wanted to have the square open but still draw people from aboveground to underground, so we came up with these domed forms, which try to be unto the building but not obtrusive.”
The Amos Rex museum is an addition to Helsinki’s cultural quarter, which has a number of museums within walking distance, including the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Finland, and the Helsinki Art Museum. The Central Library Oodi by JKMM is expected to be completed this winter.
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Source: Architectural Digest