All early signs suggested that the extension to the Gösta Serlachius Museum in Finland was going to be a landmark one for Barcelona-based architecture firm MX_SI. The young practice, founded in 2005 by Boris Bežan, Héctor Mendoza and Mara Partida, won a hotly contested international call in 2011 for the addition to the southern Finland museum. Their proposal was selected out of 579 entries from 42 countries.

Then, about a year before completing, the scheme was awarded the Spanish International Architecture Award in the International Project Competition, adding kudos to the highly anticipated design.

Now completed and open to visitors, the freshly opened extension does not disappoint. It is attached to the existing historical Joenniemi manor in Mänttä, enabling the museum to host temporary exhibitions while allowing more space for its growing permanent collection. The vaulted galleries are matched by a new café and restaurant for visitors.

Set against the striking backdrop of a petrified forest, the long, curved glass and wooden structure breaks up elegantly into smaller volumes in a gesture of respect for the natural surroundings. The extension's generous openings and elevations refer back to the forest and visually unite the interior with its landscape. 'The project is conceptualised as an abstract and dense forest,' explain the architects.

Tangential to the museum project, the architects were also asked to create a bridge connecting the park on the shore of Lake Melasjärvi, where the museum sits, with the nearby island of Taavetinsaari. The bridge's Corten-steel skin helps the structure blend with the natural backdrop and complements the new extension, bringing cohesion to the entire project.

TAGS: MUSEUMS