Sarc + Sigge Architects to design Museum of History and the Future in Turku

Sarc + Sigge Architects to design the world’s first Museum of History and the Future in Turku, Southwest Finland

Turku is a city in Finland and the regional capital of Southwest Finland. It is located on the southwestern coast of the country at the mouth of the River Aura. Due to its long history, Turku has been the site of many important events and, as a former capital, has had a major influence on Finnish history. Together with Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, Turku has been named European Capital of Culture for 2011. 

Turku has recently announced that Sigge Architects is the winner of an international architecture competition to design the world’s first Museum of History and the Future in Turku.

The idea to build a new museum in Turku was first proposed in 2011, when the city was the European Capital of Culture. The museum will be a highly interactive space, with a constantly evolving program of exhibitions showcasing the most creative and innovative scientific research and audio-visual techniques to explore the past and the future.

Driven by Turku City Council, the organisers envisage the museum becoming a cornerstone of cultural life in the region, with residents being able to visit and see new exhibitions frequently throughout the year. The museum will also provide world class space to educate students and a diverse range of skilled jobs for the city.

An international jury of city leaders, trustees and experts appointed by the Finnish Architects’ Association SAFA selected the winner from over 400 anonymous entries. Sigge Architects, who since entering the competition have merged with another Finnish architecture practice to form Sarc + Sigge, has been awarded 70,000 euros with an additional 105,000 euros distributed to other shortlisted entrants.

The Museum of History and the Future is at the heart of the city’s plans for its 800th birthday in 2029. This 150,000 sq. ft site, located next to Turku Castle on the banks of the river Aura, will harness the latest experimental presentation methods and scientific research to present Turku’s past, present and future to an expected 200,000 visitors a year, alongside Turku residents.

The winning entry from Sarc Architects was chosen because of the firm’s sensitive design, which paid homage to Turku’s history while complementing the city’s bold redevelopment plans. Once complete, the museum will act as catalyst for the wider transformation of the port area. Long-term, Turku wants this light-industrial zone to become the city’s first arts quarter. The winning design was chosen because it will deliver an open and inclusive museum that broadens the appeal of the waterfront and the surrounding area.

Pekka Mäki, project lead at architecture studio: “It is a great joy and honour to win an international architectural competition in my hometown. The aim was to create a museum building that fits in scale and architecture with Turku Castle. The spaces are placed on one level, making the museum building and its surroundings function as a seamless whole.”

SARC Architects, founded in 1965 in Helsinki, and Sigge Architects, founded in 1956 in Turku, merged in February this year forming Sarc + Sigge. The merger brings together two critical Finnish architecture firms that have received several architecture awards, both Finnish and international. The company employs 140 architecture professionals and has offices in Helsinki and Turku. About the city of Turku Founded in 1229, Turku is the oldest city in Finland and the third largest conurbation in the country. The city’s official population is just over 200,000, with around 40,000 students in higher education.

The city has a long-established reputation for world class music, with Turku being home to the oldest orchestra in the country, established in 1790. 

The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra is now being given a new state-of-the-art home along the banks of the River Aura in Music Hall Fuuga, which is under construction and is expected to be complete in 2026. 

Other cultural developments include Art House Turku, which was opened in 2022, and has provided affordable art studios in a renovated former tobacco factory in the centre of Finland’s oldest city. Alongside a rich architectural and cultural history, Turku acts as a gateway to over 40,000 islands, the densest archipelago on the planet. 

Rich in biodiversity and stunning scenery, the network of islands has long drawn in researchers and nature enthusiasts. The city’s sustainability plans include deploying low-carbon construction techniques, the electrification of public transport, utilising sewage and waste to generate energy and extensive planting of biodiversity. 

As of 2022, the per person greenhouse gas emissions averaged 7.67 tonnes for Turku residents, versus the average in Finland of around 10 tonnes.

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