Completion Date: June 2016

 

Torsby Finnskogscentrum, Lekvattnet, Sweden
Bornstein Lyckefors Arkitekter

Bornstein Lyckefors Architects has transformed a modest school building in the deep forests of Värmland, Sweden, into a public museum celebrating the slash-burn agriculture Finns who settled in the very same forests in the early 1600s. By acknowledging the qualities of the original building, resources could be used to adress communicative challanges stressed by the client. An outer facade was erected, signaling the new purpose of the building. Conceived as a wooden palisade this new layer defines an envelope within which the museum can continue to expand, converting class rooms into new exhibition spaces as additional funds are raised.

In 2013, Värmland's Museum decided to invest in new premises for its branch Torsby Finnskogscentrum. Commissioned to tell the story of the Finns who settled in the forests of Värmland, Sweden, the museum saw an increased relevance in this story, relating it to today's narrative of global migration. Having previously shared facilities with other institutions they now looked forward to having a building of their own. An old elementary school was found in Lekvattnet in the heart of the old Finn territory, and Bornstein Lyckefors Architects was involved to find a strategy for its physical transformation.

The brief asked for exhibition spaces for permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well library and archives. Further, the architects were asked to alter the appearance of the building to clearly signal its new purpose as an outward public institution. The original building had, in its central positioning, some public qualities, but it clearly wasn't a museum. These communicative challanges proved to be what informed the design and the strategy for future development.

In analyzing the program and the building the architects found that in terms of spatial qualities and circulatory possibilites, not much separated a classroom from a space specifically designed for exhibitions. By minimizing the interventions to the school's structure and spatial configuration more resources could be used to alter its appearance. The existing facade was smutted black and complemented by an outer veal of standing logs. The raw timber of this Venturian facade alludes to materials and motifs closely tied to the Finn culture. Within this wooden envelope, the museum could then keep developing its activity by transforming classroom after classroom into carefully designed exhibition experiences.

When the new museum was inaugerated in the summer of 2014, visitors would meet a completely new character. Entering, they would be met by a lobby leading them on to the library and the permanent exhibition, also designed by Bornstein Lyckefors Architects. The exhibition, telling the story through objects, is designed as an abstraction of the slash-burn agricultural landscape. On the floor is a printed carpet depicting the burned ground while the walls are covered with mirrors and laser-cut colour strips creating the effect of an infinitely large room. Exhibition stands are mounted on spring green steel racks with diagonal bracings to give associations of the first trees that grew out of the earth. In 2015 yet another exhibition space was created.

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