International architecture competition
Client: Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation, Finland
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with H. Varela Morales, I. Planelles Naya, A. Abaigar Villota, C. Crespo Bonilla, J. Raczek
Year: 2011


…a submerged museum extension


The challenge of this project is the integration and synergy of both manor and its extension.
The obvious way to plan would be above ground level, but instead we propose to integrate below ground level in order to keep the landscape free. The excavation makes us design voids; pure space.


We considered the Manor and its submerged extension as a master volume with wings. We made the wings into a service loop. The Manor and assembly hall make the heart of the project. The loop embraces foyer, exhibition spaces and all works of art. The loop offers flexibility; it makes all spaces independently accessible. Visitors can have a free choice in a ‘free flow’ layout. On the other hand it is also possible to direct visitor flows and also to close certain exhibitions under construction.


The cut out is carefully planned, in such way that the Manor is well exposed, standing proudly in the excavation. A ramp makes the entry and exit of the complete project at -1 level. All expo spaces and restaurant are aligned parallel inside the loop. The travelling exhibition 1 is sunk deeper and has two stairs on both ends: it could also function as an arena, auditorium or performance space. All exhibition spaces have flexible wall partitions on rails that can be shifted away. The inside of the loop (all exhibition spaces) can be transferred into one continuous space for events and major exhibitions.


This layout makes a compact project with surprising functional and spatial qualities. Concerning the extension the net floor surface is 3.992 m2. Its gross floor surface is 5.410 m2 including 1.198 m2 for circulation space and structure. The result is a brut-net relation of 139%.


A deck with filigree structure spans over the excavation and makes a new space in the park. It is built from prefab concrete elements with triangular openings. The triangular pattern can deliver various patterns. We propose a natural pattern of tree crowns, flowers and snow crystals. The triangles can be closed or perforated with semi-transparent or transparent glass. Visitors and museum staff are in-between the deck with the tree-flower-crystal pattern and the shadows on the floors.


Stable climate and light conditions are highly important for works of art. Variations in temperature and atmospheric humidity are not allowed and have to be avoided and controlled.
The main parameter for control is accumulation. The complete extension, including the deck, is sunk in the earth and made of concrete. The total accumulative mass will absorb most variations in the interior climate. Hydronic floor heating and cooling in the floor mass will further stabilize the climate.
Climate fine tuning and refreshing comes down to air treatment from a HVAC unit in the center of the building. A ring shaped duct under the loop controls the air treatment in the whole project. Air throw goes through integrated floor ducts with grills and air extraction goes from the top of the perimeter loop wall.


Triangular screens tune and block natural daylight and shadow casting through the glazed triangles. The conservation room has an additional mechanical lamella system below the ceiling. Artificial lighting is suspended from integrated rails in the beams. On the sides of all beams integrated led up-lighting creates basic diffuse lighting conditions.


Transport of art works and restaurant items takes place at the west side of the project. A weather tight loading dock allows climatized trucks to load and unload within the controlled climate of the building interior.