“(...) They did not go lost in the mud, they did not disappear in the water:
They took new, beautiful shape, those smithereens, those bits:
half of the shell became mother earth;
the other turned himself into firmament (...)”
Elias Lönnrot, Kalevala [I: 229-244]
Let’s stop for a moment and sit on the water edge of the Melasjärvi Lake with our back to the Manor
House and our eyes looking between the trees to the Taanventisaari island, almost like Aino, the desperate
heroine of the famous triptychs from Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The colours are the same as the
ones from the great artist and the atmosphere is that from the words of Elias Lönnrot.
It is like being seated on the lap of Ilmatar, daughter of air and mother of waters, waiting for the coot
from whose eggs the sky and earth are born, and the stars and clouds which will veil them.
What is it that makes this place so evocative?
The coexistence of these unique elements, which are at the same time universal.
The legend coexists with the present: life and human activities coexist with nature.
It is on these legends and relationships that our proposal is based. The design of the museum is
built around these concepts, defining a system capable of dealing with the various elements present
on the site in a proactive way, which at the same time emphasise the features already inherent in the
The challenge is not to build a representative building, but a place that arouses the feeling of belonging
to a specific culture and history. In this sense we not only represent the knowledge of the Serlachius
museum, but the memory shared by each visitor.
The visitor, who comes to visit a temporary exhibition or the collection, once outside the exhibition
halls, immersed in the park, or sitting at a table in the restaurant finds again the values he has seen
in the paintings and the stories they tell.
Or, staring toward the lake, leaning against the balustrade that crowns the large plate that defines
the new architecture. Or, even while away on a small boat visiting the island of Taanventisaari: the
manor house in the trees and the new museum are recognizable only by its volume, a moderate
volume covered with wood that supports the historic building - the only really recognizable architectural
element: supported on a base completely camouflaged in the wild.
It is as if it was the last egg laid by Coot on the knee of Ilmar.
Our proposed architectural intervention is based on certain principles, derived from a criticial analysis
of the context, which has guided the design, and can be summarized in four basic steps.
- the meadow The lawn, which is now on the east of the manor house, dates from the redesign of the park in 1997. In a park, normally, the focus is towards the vegetation, its flowers; we think is important to stress the importance of this clearing in the landscape of Joennemi Manor. The clearing is a real break in the dense vegetation of the area: a moment of breath, and represents the ability to stand back and admire the sky above. The landscape opens onto the lake and is immediately doubled. The clearing is the only place that allows this dialogue between the visitor and the environment. Wanting to retain it means emphasizing the importance of its enjoyment by visitors and the unique characteristics of its context. The lawn becomes a meeting place for recreation or a space for contemplation; a place to lie down on the grass and watch the sky, surrounded by the jagged peaks of the trees.
- the axis Postioned as a founding principle, the conservation of the clearing to the east of Manor House, the second principle behind the project is identifiable in the orientation of the new building. In fact, it sits along the eastern side of the historic building following the important axis defined by the tree-lined avenue that connects the manor house to the lake shore.
- the pier As the avenue connects the historic building to the Melasjärvi Lake, so the new architecture extends to it defining a “pier”, consisting of the lower volume covering of the new extension. A metaphysical square that emphasizes the building’s relationship with the natural environment and allows the visitor to consider the lakeside as a true scenic backdrop.
- the egg The final design principle derives from the reference to the Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot. Imagining the environment in which Joennemi Manor has landed as the perfect setting for a representation of the birth of all things, you just have to look for fragments of the egg laid by Ilmar’s coot on the knee and keep them. A treasure chest in the centre of the new building preserves the coot’s egg. The last word is left to the natural landscape.