Juminkeko Information Centre for the Kalevala and Karelian Culture
Finnish Science Centre Heureka is situated in Tikkurila, Vantaa. The plot of the Science Centre is on the soft riverbank, at the junction of the Keravanjoki river and the country’s busiest stretch of railway line.
The idea of a science centre was suggested by Adjunct Professors Tapio Markkanen, Hannu I. Miettinen and Heikki Oja from the University of Helsinki, after the Physics 82 exhibition held at the House of the Estates in May 1982. The Finnish Science Centre Foundation was established two years later. The founding members included the University of Helsinki, the University of Technology (now Aalto University), the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, and the Confederation of Industries.
The architecture competition of the Science Centre was held in 1985. The jury awarded first place to two entries, but after further analysis, ‘Heureka’ by Heikkinen-Komonen Architects, was chosen as the basis for planning and implementation. The city of Vantaa was the main financier of the development. The construction started in February 1987. The Finnish Science Centre Heureka, named after the winning entry of the architecture competition, opened to the public on April 28, 1989.
The Science Centre represented a new type of multipurpose building. It is an exhibition building in its functioning, with the addition of an auditorium, classrooms, a combined planetarium and superwide screen cinema, named Verne Theatre, a restaurant and a shop. The side closed to the public has offices, exhibition workshops, the restaurant kitchen, staff facilities, and the technical unit.
The steel constructions on the reflecting glass front, facing the railway track, demonstrate how visible light is divided systematically into various colours. The constructions are divided into 31 equal parts along the 100 metre elevation. The corresponding spectrum colours were produced by laboratory analyses and special paints. The additional, unheated slating glass wall was designed to reduce noise from the railway. The circular concrete slab in front of the main entrance expresses the concept of indivisibility in mathematics. The stainless steel roofing of the Verne Theatre is a demonstration of space geometry, starting with the projection of an icosahedron onto the spherical surface. The chairs of the Verne Theatre were designed by interior architects Simo Heikkilä and Yrjö Wiherheimo. Interior architect Marjatta Ypyä-Silvennoinen designed the original interiors of the restaurant and cafeteria.
The architects wanted to give the Science Centre a central interior, an architectural focus point in which the key material of the exhibition would be placed. This solution was inspired by Gunnar Asplund’s rotunda in Stockholm City Library, from 1928. In a collaboration between Asplund and the original library management, the central space was designed for the works that were considered crucial to culture. In the Science Centre, the name given to the part of the permanent exhibition in the central hall was “Universe and Life”.
Landscape architect Pentti Perasuo was in charge of the Science Park Galilei, located on the surroundings of the Science Centre. The ‘stone garden’ which dominates the accessway to the building reflects Finland’s geological map. It shows visitors right from the beginning that the Science Centre’s message is not just to present technological achievements but also to reflect the long cycle of nature and cultures.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 4/1989