The timber-structured Serlachius Museum grows into part of the exhibition

The timber-structured Serlachius Museum grows into part of the exhibition

serlachius museum
The timber extension of the Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s Gösta Museum in Mänttä, which covers an area of almost 6,000 m², has been completed and is open to the public. The structures of the 135 metre-long pavilion that has been erected next to the old museum are made of glued laminated timber (glulam) and the outer cladding of surface treated vertical shuttering.

Henrik de la Chapelle, Chairman of the Board of the Fine Arts Foundation, considers the choice of wood as the building material to be a natural one. - When thinking about the industrial history of the company and locality, modern wood construction is just right for this place. The end result is perfect, a timber pavilion interacts with the main building, environment and nature. The pavilion is not just a building but a part of the exhibition entity, explains de la Chapelle.

The construction of the 4,500 m² pavilion is based on a design by the Spanish architectural studio, MX_SI. The Finnish partner Huttunen-Lipasti-Pakkanen Architects was responsible for the further design of the project.

The responsible architects in the Spanish firm were Hector Mendoza, Boris Bezan and Mara Partida. - The use of wood was a condition of the architectural competition, and we understood that, as a local material, it would be suitable for this wood-processing location, says Mendoza. For us, the project was a learning process in how to construct a large building out of wood and how to protect the artworks in a challenging climate. The end result is more beautiful than we could have believed from the drawings. We aimed at interaction with the old manor house and the landscape.

Glulam technology used in the frame of the pavilion

serlachius museumFor architect Hector Mendoza, the use of wood in construction and, in particular, glulam technology was a new experience.  
- In the design phase, many contractors questioned the use of wood, because we were making a museum. Usually glulam is used in facilities intended for industrial or sporting use, but we wanted to use it in the museum. The concept of the whole building rests on a glulam structure. The construction of the 24-metre timber span was really interesting and made available to us a great deal of open architectural space.

The building has 101 glulam frames, some of which are visible and some hidden inside the structure. The glulam structures bear the weight of the building, create space and give it its characteristic feel. The intermediate floors are concrete and connected to the timber frame. The glulam and outer cladding are made of spruce and the floors of black-stained low-knotted oak.

- We treated the wood with a white toning layer, so it isn’t the colour of pure spruce. The wood fibres still shine through the thin coat of paint, but the white paint is better suited to the museum's white walls and black floor.

Mendoza says that he was surprised about the many possibilities for using wood in construction. - We also used wood for the facade. Since wood had to be visible in the exterior look of the building, we put timber elements to mirror the internal structure. The accomplishment of all this was helped by the 3D technology used in the structural design, thanks to which were able to work to an accuracy of millimeters in the wood construction, says Mendoza.

New materials for construction

In Mendoza’s opinion, energy-efficient and energy-saving solutions will be part of the construction of the future. - Wood is winning this race. In sustainable and ecological constructions solutions, it’s also worth looking into materials and building technologies that have been in use for hundreds of years. There’s no need completely to change existing building practices, but we should analyse which parts of modern and old building technology we can use in order to create the best possible solution.

Mendoza mentions new materials that are under development, which are replacing materials used before. - I’ve seen some prototypes of buildings constructed from recycled materials. As a result of new technology, there will no longer be construction waste, because it can be re-used. We can also minimise the use of materials and make the use of resources more efficient. In the same way, we can integrate different materials, such as cellulose-based materials with plastic.

From a point of view of architecture and construction, Mendoza sees digital technology opening up new possibilities for multi-faceted architecture and different applications. - Now we can build things to an accuracy of a hundredth of a millimetre, which cannot be seen by the human eye. For example, 3D printing and plasma cutters will become more common and be suitable even for low-budget building projects.

As a result of printing technology, many new materials will be introduced to construction, believes Mendoza. - This may lead to a completely new kind of architecture. In the age of rational architecture, things were done very simply because of the need to save money and energy. With new technology, it will be possible to do things even more simply, cost-effectively and quickly.

New museum pavilion part of the exhibition experience

In Finland, two significant design projects are starting up, the Amos Anderson and Guggenheim art museums in Helsinki. The design of the Guggenheim Museum in particular will place a significant expected value on the use of wood.

- Some people may wonder why we are building a new pavilion costing almost €20 million, and are not using that money for the actual content, the art. We feel that this Pavilion is a content project in itself, because the building is part of the exhibition experience, says Chairman of the Board, Henrik de la Chapelle. The building is closely connected to the history of Serlachius where there has been exhibition activity since 1945.


Article service/Markku Laukkanen

Additional information:
Henrik de la Chapelle, Chairman of the Board of the Fine Arts Foundation, +358 3 488 6800
Hector Mendoza, Architect, +34934151987,