MX_SI models its new extension to Gösta Serlachius Contemporary Art Museum on an abstract forest

A new extension for museum
Young Barcelona-based architecture firm MX_SI recently completed the extension of the Gösta Serlachius Contemporary Art Museum in Finland.
(Image credit: Tuomas Uusheimo)

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.

Museum with garden

The freshly opened building is attached to the historical Joenniemi manor in Mänttä. 

(Image credit: Pegenaute)

Exhibition hall at the museum

The addition enables the museum to host temporary exhibitions and allows more space for its permanent collection.

(Image credit: Pegenaute)

Wood structure of the museum

The long, curved glass-and-wood structure breaks up elegantly into smaller volumes in a gesture of respect for the surrounding nature.

(Image credit: Pegenaute)

Café and restaurants for the visitors

The museum's new vaulted galleries are matched by a café and restaurant for visitors.

(Image credit: Pegenaute)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).