architecture : urban : visual culture

New arrival buildings of Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Gyula Takács planned new arrival buildings of the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum as his diploma project. "Skanzen houses are one of the oldest points of man's architectural thinking. I looked at the skanzen houses as if they were parts of nature. All the buildings standing on stone, because the wood absorbs the moisture in the soil. The new buildings do not imitate the traditional wooden architecture, they use up-to-date solutions." 

Seurasaari is one of the 315 islands in the Helsinki capital region. The island is accessed by a charming wooden bridge, exactly north-south direction. Seurasaari's territory was taken by City of Helsinki in 1871. Axel Heikel, Professor of Ethnography at the University of Helsinki, had an important role in the creation of Seaurasaari open-air Museum .He initiated the construction of Seurasaari Skanzen based on the successful example of Stockholm Skanzen. As a result, in 1909, about one third of the island was designated for the open-air museum. Finally, in 1913, the entire island became the property of the Finnish National Museum, and the Great Enterprise started to create a small, folk-like Finland to retain its original form and taste. Over the past 100 years, 78 buildings have been shipped here from various parts of Finland and have been placed in the area as an imprint of an organically developing town with emphasis, thickening and border positions. Seaurasaari open-air Museum is freely accessible throughout the year, however; in order to visit the interiors of the buildings we have to pay an entrance fee.




I looked at the skanzen houses as if they were parts of nature. The very decisive bridge with engineering precision north-south is the means of arrival. With the extension of this geometrically-highlighted axis, I have amplified the role of the bridge, the route becomes the scene of knowledge after arriving. The three buildings constructed on the axis serve the scanner, new but not strange functions are added to the island by affirming the connection with the city. In the two-storey arrival building you can buy the tickets on the first floor and have a coffee, on the second floor you will learn about the history of the island and Skanzen.





The middle building is the new site of the Aalto University's Faculty of Architecture – Wood Project. This is a studio where dozens of students can get close to traditional wood architecture, which is also part of the training. The last element of the composition is a playhouse where children can learn about wood as material. The three buildings work independently, are designed according to real needs and are maintained by existing institutions. Additionally, the Skanzen houses cover the various layers of wood architecture.

I have looked at solutions for the Skanzen houses, which are one of the oldest points of man's architectural thinking. All the buildings standing on stone, because the wood absorbs the moisture in the soil. The host building follows this analogy, on the ground floor everything made by reinforced concrete structures. The sculptured mass is a built rock. The top layer standing on this, which is made of wood in every element. Floor-top laminated-glued truss supports are the main load-bearing structures, interior wood surfaces, and white-glazed façade. The connection between the three buildings is created by a pine-tree path. Instead of finding the end point of a definite axis, bark spreading gradually disappears between rocks and blast furnace, so it can be overwritten at any moment.





The new buildings do not imitate the traditional wooden architecture. Nowadays we have to meet completely different energy, fire protection, building engineering and building construction needs than hundreds or even ten years ago! The structural concept is based on up-to-date engineering connections, system-matching and modular edits. The host building is a futuristic industrial body. Serving as an active house, it provides energy, physical and mental protection for both Skanzen houses and visitors alike. The shed roof design conjures up the majestic silhouette of the pine forest and the Skanzen buildings. The building is floating among the trees like a cloud and it is inviting, informing, showing direction and with this landmark you can return back to where you started the journey.

Gyula Takács

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