About

Category
Assembly buildings
Architect
Steven Holl
Selections
Helsinki built through competitions
Tags
cityscape competition Helsinki intertwining light zinc
Gross area (m²)
12000
Competition
1992
Completion
1998

The story of the Kiasma building began with an architectural competition held in 1992. The winning entry – one of 516 proposals – was Chiasma by the American architect Steven Holl. The name, which denotes a point of crossing, was changed to Kiasma, and was incorporated into the name of the museum itself. The opening of the new museum was celebrated in May 1998.

The concept of Kiasma involves the building’s mass intertwining with the geometry of the city and landscape which are reflected in the shape of the building. An implicit cultural line curves to link the building with Finlandia Hall while it also engages a “natural line” connecting to the back landscape and Töölönlahti Bay. The horizontal light of northern latitudes is enhanced by a waterscape that would serve as an urban mirror, thereby linking the museum to the Töölönlahti Bay area in the heart of the city and the vista towards the central park, which on a clear day, in Alvar Aalto’s word’s, “extends to Lapland.”

Although Holl’s museum departs also in other respects from the tradition of Finnish modernism, it suggests that architecture, art and culture are not disparate phenomena but essential elements of the city and cityscape.

Location

Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki
60.1714873, 24.937111

Images

North gable., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
North gable., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Pirje Mykkänen / Finnish National Gallery)
West façade and water basin., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
West façade and water basin., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Pirje Mykkänen / Finnish National Gallery)
Entrance side to the south., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Entrance side to the south., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Petri Virtanen / Finnish National Gallery)
Entrance lobby., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Entrance lobby., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Petri Virtanen / Finnish National Gallery)
Top floor exhibition space., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Top floor exhibition space., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Petri Virtanen / Finnish National Gallery)
Staircase,
Staircase, "pasta stairs"., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Petri Virtanen / Finnish National Gallery)
Steven Holl, competition entry
Steven Holl, competition entry "Chiasma" floor plan, 1st prize., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Jussi Tiainen)
Steven Holl, competition entry
Steven Holl, competition entry "Chiasma" scale model, 1st prize., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© Jussi Tiainen / MFA)

Additional media

Kazuo Sinohara, competition entry
Kazuo Sinohara, competition entry "Stages", shared 2nd prize., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© MFA)
Vesa Helminen, competition entry
Vesa Helminen, competition entry "Lähteellä", shared 2nd prize., Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (© MFA)