The Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as Kiasma Museum in Helsinki, Finalnd, is the first Steven Holl architecture realisation I’ve seen so far and looking at his website I’ve just realised he designed the Danish Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, didn’t know that..this can only mean I need to book another trip there!

The curvy or linear components of the building – including ramps, sinuous staircases and squared gallery spaces – give a sense of flow to the space and guide the visitors. Spaces are designed in a really dynamic way so that they are different in height, shape, dimensions and all these elements that intertwine give rhythm and create “a variety of spacial experiences” as Holl stated.

Internal circulation towards the exhibition rooms flows through a long and curved ramp that allows the visitors to gradually ascend to the upper floors and get into the museum atmosphere.

have you even seen



One of the main and most powerful element of Kiasma is light. It enhances the features of the internal space so that it is perceived as a “silent, yet dramatic backdrop” as Steven Holl described it. Nothing could be more true.

Natural light has a functional but even emotional role in this case, it’s so mild and delicate, it never creates strong shadows so that, if the museum is not busy, you can feel a sense of quietness and a comforting perception.

One of the very first questions an architect faces designing an art museum is: do I want to create an art container that acts as a plain setting that will enhance the artworks contained in it OR do I want to create a landmark, a building that will itself be a work of art?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. I think Steven Holl put himself in between these two opposite solutions. He conceived the Kiasma in a way that harmonize art and architecture so that the latter won’t overshadow the art it is designed to house.

Curious to hear what you think about it.

MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Plaça dels Àngels, 1
08001 Barcelona

All the photography images are taken with

 Olympus OM-D E-M10 and a 14-42mm lens

All photos and words by Nancy Da Campo




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