Current news

Serlachius Museums’ Art Sauna nominated for Finlandia Prize for Architecture

29 August 2022

Serlachius Museums’ Art Sauna has been nominated for the 2022 Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The Finlandia winner will be selected by Finnish film director Klaus Härö. The winner will be announced on 3 October.

The Art Sauna, built next to Serlachius Museum Gösta, integrates Finnish sauna culture into an experience of art, nature and architecture. The Art Sauna has been designed by the internationally renowned award-winning trio of architects Héctor Mendoza, Mara Partida and Boris Bežan, who also designed the Serlachius Museums’ timber-frame extension, the Pavilion, which opened in 2014. 

According to the Finlandia Prize for Architecture presentation, the concrete-structure sauna does not defy Finnish sauna architecture. Instead, the Art Sauna transports visitors, accustomed to the archaic, rugged Finnish log sauna culture, to a completely unexpected sauna world. 

 “The end result is an experiential sauna path, drawing on the cultural backgrounds of its creators, along which a substantial amount of art has been placed. The path ends in the steam room via an outdoor space. The Art Sauna is unmistakably related to a new sauna culture, where instead of traditional relaxation and washing, people seek experiences and a sense of social togetherness,” the presentation states.

In addition to the Art Sauna, the renovation of the University of Jyväskylä Library and the Jätkäsaari School in Helsinki are competing for the Finlandia Prize. The Finlandia Prize for Architecture shortlist is selected by a pre-selection jury appointed each year by the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA). The pre-selection jury is chaired by Professor Lehtovuori, according to whom the factors uniting the buildings are education and culture as well as high-quality design and realisation. 

 “The three selected architectural, landscape and urban sites remind us, on the one hand, of the importance of top-quality science, education and learning environments and, on the other hand, highlight how architecture creates warm places for good living in an abstracted world.”

This year, SAFA is awarding the Finlandia Prize for Architecture for the ninth time. The final selection is traditionally made by one person, representing a field other than architecture.

A journey into architecture, art and nature

The starting point for the architecture of the unique Art Sauna is a horizontal line defined for the whole Museum complex, with stone below and wood above. The sauna is concealed behind the museum on a slope descending to the shore of the lake, and it blends into the landscape, rising unassumingly above the terrain. A green roof further merges the building into its setting.

The interior spaces of the sauna are characterised by a dialogue of art, landscape and architecture. Stone and wood surfaces alternate rhythmically, and the curved lines of the lobby’s ceiling soften the straight lines of the stone finish.The entrance to the sauna and the layout of the rooms lead the sauna visitor on a journey into the embrace of light, nature and art. At the journey’s end awaits a round steam room, which can be reached via a cooling yard.

Héctor Mendoza, Mara Partida and Boris Bežan say that to have an opportunity to design a Finnish sauna has been a challenge and a big responsibility. Their way of working seeks an adequate balance between experimentation and common sense.

“Sauna tradition is bound with Finnish culture and its way of living, and we needed to understand it so our architecture could respond to that. With that in mind and the admiration we feel towards Finland, we feel quite fortunate to take on that challenge”, they say.

The architects consider the Serlachius Museums to be more than just a museum. There, the art experience extends beyond the walls of the museum.

“Actually, the Gösta extension, the building itself, is part of an emotional journey that starts and continues with different elements of the context. The new Art Sauna is presented as part of that journey, and it will become ‘more than a sauna room’, integrating nature and art in a more intimate and proximate scale”, they conclude.

A challenge for designers and builders

Pekka Pakkanen, who acted as the chief designer and Finnish architect partner in the project, says that it has been possible for the Mexican and Slovenian architects to examine the sauna process without the burden of tradition or convention. The ambience of the building is defined by purposeful openings into the landscape and high-quality, timeless building materials as well as exceptionally meticulous finishing of details.

 “The building complex, precisely embedded in the landscape park, rises from the slope as grooved concrete walls and opens out towards the lake as light infills built with oak. Concealing the building technology, the eaves and joint structures required by our challenging climate, and the extensions of the materials has challenged the skills of both the design team and the builders to the extreme”, he says.

Finnish contemporary art and international design

In addition to Finnish contemporary art, the sauna also features utility items. Satu Rautiainen’s large-scale commissioned work Birdbath (2022) decorates the wall of the lobby. The theme of the work is also repeated in sauna textiles designed by Rautiainen. Tuula Lehtinen’s mosaic work Embrace (2022) decorates a semi-circular outdoor shower, which is in use all year round. Other artists include Jussi Goman, Anne Koskinen, Laura Könönen, Anni Rapinoja and Noora Schroderus.

The interior of the sauna features furniture from top international designers such as Òscar Tusquets, Patricia Urquiola, Jasper Morrison and Faye Toogood. Alvar Aalto, Eero Aarnio, Lisa Johansson-Pape and Antrei Hartikainen are among the Finnish designers represented in the sauna.

Sauna complements Serlachius’ range of services

The Art Sauna provides a unique addition both to Serlachius’ own service offering and to Finnish sauna culture as a whole, which has become an internationally important tourism product in recent years. The sauna can be hired by groups for recreational, meeting and festive use. Its steam heat can also be enjoyed by individual sauna lovers on pre-arranged public days.

Serlachius Museum’ virtual exhibition space Onself as Another open

10 August 2022

Serlachius Museums has gained a new virtual exhibition space, where visitors can view works of the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s collection from their own computer or mobile device. The exhibition Oneself As Another has been realised by the internationally renowned Arilyn XR design studio and curated by Aura Seikkula.

Oneself As Another presents classics and contemporary art from the Serlachius art collection. The virtual exhibition space has been influenced by the architecture of the Art Museum Gösta’s Pavilion, but does not aim to perfectly replicate the building. 

The curator has also utilised the opportunities offered by the virtual environment. “For example, we have altered the dimensions and size of the works in dialogue with the space. The sizes of some works do not correspond to their actual dimensions, and therefore they take on a completely new essence.” 

Seikkula says that Oneself As Another creates space for another’s longing. “The coronavirus pandemic meant that encounters with others were rare. Sociality and opportunities to socialise changed. Separation became seclusion, unpredictability was out of reach. The exhibition also ponders what we long for, what we return to, who is with us.” Read more here.

Art Sauna’s steam room offers seating for over 20 sauna visitors.

30 May 2022

Serlachius Museums’ New Art Sauna

A new architectonic perspective into the concept of Finnish sauna, Art Sauna stands on the shore of Serlachius Museum Gösta. The name Art Sauna is appropriate for this architecturally unique sauna building which houses both art and design.

The same architect trio who designed Serlachius Museum Gösta’s Pavilion is responsible for the planning of Art Sauna: Hector Mendoza, Mara Partida and Boris Bežan. In Finland, architectural partner in the project is Pekka Pakkanen. The three architects outline the idea of the design project as follows:

The new art-sauna space is understood as a continuation of the emotional journey of the whole Serlachius Museum. Museum visitors’ experience is more than the act of observing art inside an ad-hoc space. Instead, they get embraced by a chain of moments in which landscape, art, and architecture blend. It is in that sense that the new sauna space extends that experience into a new more delicate and domestic scale. One of the main strategies is to merge the new art-sauna space with the ground, so it becomes part of the landscape instead of a new building, or a small replica of the well-known museum.

Embraced by Architecture, Landscape and Art 

The sauna’s architectural starting point is a horizontal line created by a stone section below and a wood section above it, with the sauna located beneath the line. Discreetly protruding from the ground, the sauna is hiding in the slope that descends towards the lake shore and blending in in the landscape. A continuum of diagonal grooves sets rhythm for the concrete surface of the building. A green roof merges the sauna with its surroundings. 

The interior is characterised by the dialogue of art, landscape, and architecture. Stone and wood material give the surfaces an alternating rhythm: arching vaults of the lobby’s oak ceiling soften the straight lines of the stone finish. The layout of the premises leads the sauna visitor to a journey embraced by light, nature and art. A round steam room awaits in the journey’s end. Made of thermo aspen whose surface shines in various shades of brown, the sauna benches in the steam room reach to the ceiling and create its mellow atmosphere.

The timelessness and high quality of the shapes and materials has been emphasised in the design of the architecture and interior of the sauna. Domestic and international design in the interior offers interesting touching points both literally as well as tangibly.

Finnish and International Art and Design

In addition to artworks, art is also featured in utility items of the sauna. Satu Rautiainen’s large-scale commissioned work Birds’ Drinking Place (2022) decorates the wall of the lobby. The theme of the work is also repeated in sauna textiles designed by Rautiainen.The artwork of the lobby have been created by Anni Rapinoja and Jussi Goman. In the shower rooms, a watchful viewer may notice Sauna bathers created by Eric o. W. Ehrtröm. Art is also visible outdoors, such as Tuula Lehtinen’s mosaic work, among others.  

The interior of the sauna features furniture from top international designers such as Òscar Tusquets, Patricia Urquiola, Jasper Morrison and Faye Toogood. Also renowned Finnish designers, such as Alvar Aalto and Markku Sale are represented in the sauna world. The handprint of the awarded carpenter of the younger generation, Antrei Hartikainen can be seen in the forms of the Bastone sideboard as well as in the scoops and sauna pails, which Hartikainen has especially designed for the Serlachius Art Sauna.

Sauna complements Serlachius’ range of services

The Art Sauna provides a unique addition both to Serlachius’ own service offering and to Finnish sauna culture as a whole, which has become an internationally important tourism product in recent years. The sauna can be hired by groups for recreational, meeting and festive use. Its steam heat can also be enjoyed by individual sauna lovers on pre-arranged public days. 

The sauna experience is not complete without a grill. On site, freshly caught fish are prepared directly in a smoke oven or beef steaks on a barbecue. Of course, there are also vegetarian and vegan options to choose from.  Serlachius Museums’ partner Restaurant Gösta and restaurateur are at your service for the menus also at the Art Sauna. 

Book at Serlachius Museums’ sales service:sales@serlachius.fi, tel. 03 488 6801. See also our public sauna days.

Trish Morrissey’s publication for the exhibition Autofictions out

23 May 2022

Autofictions is the first major survey of Irish artist Trish Morrissey (b.1967), charting her career from the early 2000s, and presenting new work made especially for the accompanying exhibition at the Serlachius Museums in 2022.

From her seminal photographs that interrogate the visual codes of the family album, to more recent projects exploring the lives of often overlooked women from history, Morrissey always appears in her films and photographs, sometimes performing more than one character. Autofictions explores this dual nature of her practice, whereby the artists’ own biography weaves in and out of the stories of others, using her body as a means of both re-enactment and personal reflection. Together, the works create a narrative about female experience from youth to middle age, and beyond.

Trish Morrissey was born in Dublin and has been based in the UK since the early 1990s. She has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally and her work is held in major collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Serlachius Art Collection. Autofictions is her first solo exhibition in Finland.

Writers: Pauli Sivonen, Kate Best, Lucy Soutter, Trish Morrissey, Josephine Lanyon
Graphic design and layout: Minna Luoma
Publisher: Parvs Publications Ltd
Printer by Livonia Print, Riika 2022
Languages: Finnish and English
176 pages

ISBN 1799-7720-06-0
Serlachius Museums Publications 85