The Sleeping Tower

Creating a new public link

Our proposal seeks to create a new outdoor public axis from east to west in the urbanscape so that visitors can enjoy the park next to the existing museum building with an increased ease. It does so by widening access points to the museum complex. A pavilion proposed along this route constitutes the main urban attraction by defining a new gathering space here, and housing a cafeteria. Instead of creating a visual landmark, our proposal seeks to establish a dialogue with the existing museum building and its landmark tower. As visitors walk into the park, they see a subtle void carved into the ground, whose narrow proportions seem to generate a dialogue with the museum’s tall tower, almost as though it were its shadow. This piques the visitors curiosity and invites them to explore the hidden intervention below ground. In this way, our proposal offers first and foremost an urban connection, upon exploring which the proposal’s subterranean existence is gradually and experientially revealed.

The Garden Pavilion

The translucent glass-and-steel pavilion marks a new threshold between the existing museum building and the park. And yet, its presence is very gentle, serving to frameing the old building and difining boundaries of the public park. By taking most of the functions underground, the park above ground is left as a spacious green space that can be used by people in multiple ways in the spirit of social and cultural change, and become a vibrant thoroughfare for the community. The pavilion’s orientation also creates another plaza of a more intimate scale to the west of the museum, where we have opened up a new entry. Housing a café with outdoor terraces, the pavilion connects directly to the underground annex. The structural rhythm of the pavilion is abstracted in a contemporary language from that of the existing museum building without mimicking its neoclassical façade.

Access and functions

The two-storied underground annex can also be accessed via a wide flight of steps that leads down from the courtyard of the existing museum. This creates a seamless connection between the old and the new. Once underground, visitors arrive at the sunken void, around which are carved various functions, like the exhibition spaces, restaurant, educational rooms and other public amenities. A double-height exhibition space occupies the lower level and forms the main core. Its bay width allows for various formats of exhibitions to be hosted, and several access points make it easy to navigate the spaces. Controlled natural light filtered through skylights lends the underground spaces a glow.

Material and systems

The underground structure is primarily made in concrete, with the spaces and interior façades following the proportions of the existing building. The distribution of courts and walkways in both the old and new buildings bears similarity. This, along with the rhythmic similarities between the two, lends coherence to the whole. In these ways, instead of celebrating the differences between the annex and the existing museum building, our proposal seeks to establish continuity between the two.

The Sleeping Tower | date : 2019 | location : Helsinki, Finland | surface : 4.000 m2 | team : Madhusudhan Chalasani, Javier Ugarte Albizu, Carlos Gonzalvo Salas, Jesus Garrido Valdivia, Bharat Kumar, Vamsi Krishna, Bob Peniel, Niharika Sanyal, Tanvi Jain, Mario Acosta Bejarano | client : The National Museum of Finland | status : International Competition