Ethereal underworld: exploring Helsinki’s colossal new art bunker

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In a large stretch below the Finnish capital lies a skyrocketing circus-top culture center. Will the 50m Amos Rex art museum put the city at the leading edge of Europes art scene?

B ulging white mounds rear up from the ground in the middle of Helsinki, tapering to circular windows that point like cyclopean eyes around the square. Kids rush up the high slopes while a skateboarder tries to move down one, past a couple posturing for a selfie at the top.

This curious landscape of funnels and bulges indicates the arrival of Amos Rex , a EUR50m ( 45m) art museum for the Finnish capital, which opens today in a large below ground area below a previous bus station car park.

“It is as if the museum didn’t rather consent to hole up,” states Asmo Jaaksi of regional architecture company JKMM , which masterminded the job, “and it’s in some way bubbling up into the square.”

Digital declined the possibility of having its own Guggenheim Museum , after 5 years of bitterly objected to public arguments. While the Guggenheim’s mooted harbour-front area stays empty(allocated as a possible website for a brand-new architecture and style museum, revealed recently ), the opening of the independently moneyed Amos Rex includes persuading weight to the argument that Helsinki is a first-rate cultural location in its own right, without the requirement for a branch of the United States franchise.

Beneath the bumpy landscape extends a colossal 2,200 sq m versatile exhibit area(nearly two times the size of the V&A’s brand-new underground gallery ), which has actually been skillfully excavated in the centre of town, in between a previous army barracks and the Lasipalatsi, or glass palace, a 1930s home entertainment and retail complex. This splendor of Finnish functionalism has actually been immaculately brought back, with timewarp interiors of fleshy salmon columns, a sweeping spiral staircase and round glass light fittings that hang like clumps of frogspawn from intense red and blue ceilings. Its 500-seat movie theater is a marvel of the duration, with chrome-edged red upholstered seats, flying dish lights and pleated mustard-coloured drapes. Outdoors, the structure’s previous boilerhouse chimney stands happily in the centre of the brand-new square with a nautical air, like the funnel of a ship now cast adrift in the churning sea of paved mounds.

The Finland . Eighty years on, the structured white structure offers an elegant foil to the futuristic underworld that JKMM has actually prepared.

Entering off the city’s primary Mannerheimintie opportunity, visitors are welcomed with a broad view window that frames among the brand-new mounds in the square beyond prior to descending down a broad staircase to a brilliant white foyer. The ceiling is covered with spirals of white illuminated material that carefully pulsate, offering the impression of being underneath some heavenly cloud canopy (a welcome sight in Helsinki’s dark cold weather), while 2 terrific cone-shaped spaces plunge below the piazza, framing views of surrounding structures through their circular windows. It is a world apart from the previous house of the Amos Anderson Art Museum, based on the tradition of the home speculator turned media magnate and client of the arts in his previous paper workplaces in 1965.

“Art utilized to be something you held on the wall and went respectfully to ponder,” states the museum’s director, Kai Kartio. “Today it is conversational and significantly interactive, something individuals make and experience together. We understood that if we wished to satisfy the difficulties of the future, we needed to have something various from our captivating old office complex.”

The resulting area is as far from the 1913 art nouveau block as might be pictured. It seems like a group of adjoined circus camping tents that form a single undulating ceiling above the extensive hall, dressed in a constant skin of circular white disks, and skyrocketing up and stroking below the open round roof-lights. Or a minimum of that’s exactly what you would see if the location had not been divided up and blacked out for the opening exhibit, Massless, a virtual truth amazing by Japanese group TeamLab .

Amos Touch of classs … Amos Rex. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

It is an odd choice to introduce an airy top-lit gallery with a black-box setup, however the interactive, hi-tech gold mine guarantees to be a crowd-puller. Including 140 projectors, and a whole space of servers and supercomputers, the series of hypnotic environments transfers you to another world. A “digital environment” of geckos, butterflies and frogs multiplies around one mirrored labyrinthine area, the psychedelic jungle reacting to visitors’ motions. Kids can draw animals, scan them and have them contributed to the fairy tale forest; some will enjoy going after these animals around and marking on them to launch digital splatters of paint. Stand still for enough time and lots of flowers start to flower at your feet, joining the technicolour flotsam of pulverised bugs.

Elsewhere you can admire a flock of Yatagarasu, the three-legged crows of Japanese misconception, as they move around a considerably black space at sick speeds, weaving neon vapour-trails in knotted loops to the noise of hypnotic trance music. The crescendo can be found in the greatest space of all, where the group of developers has simulated a scriptural flood of water gushing up from the ground and spiralling around the cone-shaped ceiling in a fantastic vortex, as if the entire structure had actually been tipped upside down, the roof-light changed into a significant plughole.

u-responsive-ratio”>  The The museum’s stretching garage. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

After all this digital wizardry, the little space committed to an irreversible exhibit of post-impressionist paintings appears like an afterthought, tucked into a low-ceilinged windowless area– something the designers needed to consist of however didn’t rather understand how.

The big column-free garage has actually ended up being the default desire for many brand-new museum extensions– however it so typically winds up being compartmentalised and blacked out. It will be intriguing to see how Amos Rex’s next 2 exhibits, covering the varied poles of surrealist painter Ren Magritte and speculative Dutch art cumulative Studio Drift , utilize the terrific concrete camping tent.

Up above, more households are climbing on the mounds and peering in through the windows to obtain a look inside their brand-new cultural bunker. The designers hope their sloping landscape will end up being a spontaneous auditorium for outside performances and occasions, however even with no efficiencies it has currently end up being a magnet of activity in the middle of the city, whose extra-large squares frequently feel a bit windswept. And there’s an incredible gallery beneath it, to boot.

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