Kiasma, Museum Of Contemporary Art
Kiasma is located in the heart of Helsinki at the foot of the Parliament building to the west, with Eliel Saarinen’s Helsinki Station to the east, and Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall to the north.
The horizontal light of northern latitudes is enhanced by a waterscape that serves as an urban mirror, thereby linking the museum to Helsinki’s Töölö heart, which on a clear day, in Aalto’s word’s, “extends to Lapland.” This water extension from Töölö Bay intertwines with and passes through the museum.
Kiasma provides a variety of spatial experiences. The general character of the rooms, which are almost rectangular with one wall curved, allows for a silent yet dramatic backdrop for the exhibition of contemporary art. These rooms are meant to be silent, but not static; they are differentiated through their irregularity.
The slight variation in room shape and size due to the gently curving section of the building allows natural light to enter in several different ways. This asymmetrically drives movement through a series of spatial sequences. In this regard the overall design becomes a slightly warped “gallery of rooms,” where the spatial flow emerges from the combination of the horizontal light-catching section and the continuity of the internal space.
The dynamic internal circulation, with its curving ramps and stairs, allows for an open interactive viewing, inspiring the visitor to choose his or her own route through the galleries. Unlike a hierarchical sequenced or ordered movement, this open-ended casual circulation provokes moments of pause, reflection, and discovery.
The curved roof allows secondary skylights while horizontal light is deflected down through the section along the center. Thus natural light is able to penetrate both upper and lower levels. The curved roof section with its “refracting” skylight introduces another means for distributing light to galleries below the top level.