PEP-RAM, Random Access Memory © 1988
Status: architecture competition
Client: Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation, Finland
Design: Monolab
Team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Francesca Testi, Flavia Oddi, Ignacio Rodriguez Vergara Dominguez, Naiara Ruiz Zuriarrain


…a growing live archive that boldly looks ahead…


A new underground archive for the impressive heritage of works by the Finnish artists Tapio Wirkkala and Rut Bryk. Archives mostly have standard racking systems: they are dark, silent, repetitive, maze-like environments. Our proposal starts with a standard archive which is (re)animated and fully alive and looking ahead by absorbing all 5000 works of the artists with sufficient space for new works by contemporary artists that will be made in five labs.

All works of Tapio and Rut are collected, protected and displayed in this genuine archive; in a field of racks made of locally harvested Finnish timber. Several thematic paths can be selected to explore the archive. Tablets with apps will guide people through different categories. The archive is (re)animated by absorbing various facilities and amenities (labs, individual working modules, passages, coffee&vending, toilets) serving various target groups and individuals like artists, professional surveyors, the public, the media and the younger generations.

The absorbed modules that serve the end users are: 1. entry foyer, 2. Perspex showcases that contain the works, 3. the innovation labs to experiment with different materials, 4. study/work modules for researchers / professionals, 5. passages to cross the racks, 6. children facilities, 7. toilets, 8. coffee/thee/fruit vending modules. The innovation labs (glass, metals, textiles, wood & plastics and ceramics) and working modules are meant to continue the innovation of crafts, research, design and production of new works, while standing on the shoulders of Tapio and Rut. New techniques and new products will be tested and developed by contemporary artists that work, produce and exhibit in the archive. Properly insulated and serviced spaces are made of laminated, coloured, glass partitions and equipped with the proper machines and tools. Part of the rack system continue inside.
The ceramic and wood labs are together and can transform into the lecture room. Two glass partitions can be stored sideways to make one space. Colored glass partitions take care of sound insulation. The passages through the racks around the perimeter will avoid dead end corridors. The existing four concrete columns are absorbed in the racks lay-out.

The virtue of having no windows makes inter-active lighting systems into real way finders. The archive space has dimmed background lighting from behind the slats and from below the racks. At the entry foyer, visitors will get a personal tablet with an app to navigate through the archive in many ways. Several thematic paths can be selected to explore the archive. All works of Tapio and Rut and the next generations of artists are in Perspex showcases. After selecting one of the themes, every next showcase will light up in the rack and also be visible on the tablet, assisting the visitors and professionals through the archive. After passing the showcase, lighting will dim again (activated through a NFC; near field chip system) and the next showcase elsewhere in the archive will light up and notify where to go.

In this way the works can be randomly placed in the archive (which makes an adventure) as every single item can be easily located through the NFC system. The archive functions like a ‘people’s RAM’, a random access memory for people, which we define as ‘PEP – RAM’.

We propose a skin of local Finnish timber slats along the suspended ceiling and two walls of the space. Between concrete top and ceiling we can position indirect background lighting, climate control and services with routers and security systems.