Helsinki Biennial Pavilion

The pavilion is the entry to the Helsinki Biennial, an art festival that takes place on the island of Vallisaari. Ferries from the pavilion will take visitors from the harbour in the old town of Helsinki to the archipelago.
The pavilion will house tourist information and provides benches for waiting a ferry in case of rain. Ancillary spaces are in a simple rectangular volume next to the pavilion proper.
The three-dimensional digital building model guided the construction in the wood workshop directly, without conventional construction drawings.^
The workshop, too, was in a port town, hence the pieces were brought to Helsinki in a barge.^
The wooden swirl of the pavilion stands out in contrast to the 19th century maritime city. Instead, the form of the pavilion is reminiscent of the cliffs of Vallisaari or old wooden ships.*
In case of rain, there are benches to wait under the tent-like roof, which triangular timber frames support.
The pavilion has the shape of a smooth cliff typical of the Helsinki coast.*
Visitors can admire the harbour landscape from the roof.
The yard is paved with crosscut logs and sand.*

Helsinki Biennial Pavilion

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    Description:

    The pavilion is the entry to the Helsinki Biennial, an art festival that takes place on the island of Vallisaari. Ferries from the pavilion will take visitors from the harbour in the old town of Helsinki to the archipelago. The wooden swirl of the pavilion stands out in contrast to the 19th century maritime city. The bustling Market Square and the façade of neoclassical and neo-Renaissance buildings, such as The City Hall, The Old Market Hall and the Cathedral surround the pavilion. Instead, the form of the temporary pavilion, reminiscent of a giant’s kettle, echoes the coastal cliffs of Vallisaari that the ice age has rounded. Its deck connotes wooden ships that still visit the harbour during a herring market. Verstas Architects designed the temporary pavilion to prepare the visitor for the journey to the art festival on the Vallisaari island.

    A terminal for the art biennial

    The Helsinki Biennial is expected to attract 300,000 visitors. It is part of Helsinki’s strategy to make the archipelago more accessible, attractive and better serviced for the public. The Vallisaari island, previously a military area, has recently been opened to the public. The Biennial Pavilion will house tourist information as well as ancillary spaces in a simple rectangular volume next to the pavilion proper. The pavilion is a place to wait for the ferry in all weathers. In sun, one can rest on the sloping deck that provides a vantage point to the Market Square and the Baltic Sea. In case of rain, there are benches to wait under the tent-like roof, which triangular timber frames support.

    Design and construction

    Verstas Architects studied the form of the pavilion with the help of modelling clay models and then designed it digitally. The three-dimensional digital building model guided the construction in the wood workshop directly, without conventional construction drawings. The workshop, too, was in a port town, hence the pieces were brought to Helsinki in a barge. The pavilion is assembled of prefabricated elements connected with bolts. Open elements consist of glue-laminated timber frames and steel ties, clad with laminated veneer lumber and topped with fine sawn pine battens. Lighting is hidden in slots between the frames. The deck is made of oiled pine planks, while the round yard is paved with greyed crosscut logs and white quartz sand.

    Status

    Completed in 2020

    Client

    The City of Helsinki

    Location

    South Harbour, Helsinki, Finland

    Photographers

    Pyry Kantonen, Tuomas Uusheimo, marked with* or Verstas Architects / Pyry Kantonen, marked with ^

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