Rolando Lopez Lopez

Rolando Lopez Lopez

Saint Louis, MO, US


Artek Design Center

Artek, a Finnish furniture company founded by Alvar Aalto, is looking for a new home. A site located in the Helsinki Design District, located between the Architecture and Design Museum, seems like an ideal candidate. There’s only one problem: if the building were to be placed in the pre-zoned location, in the center of the block, no one would be able to get Sunlight.

The main decision is to squeeze the building footprint to the north edge of the site, allowing all buildings on the block to get along. As an added bonus, a plaza space is created to the South, providing a gathering space for the visitors and neighborhood.

The project is made up of three characters: the floating boxes, the spine, and the deck.


The Floating Boxes - The building proposal involves a radical division of program based on functions. The program is divided into three main groups, which relate to the core values of the company: collaborate, preserve, and make. The groups are expressed architecturally as independent “buildings within buildings” which float above the street level.

The Spine - In order for the volumes to communicate, a thin “spine” is introduced. The spine uses a series of ramps to connect the three boxes with elevators and the necessary means of egress. It is a thin bar located in the south, which links the building with the newly created public space. While the group-boxes are heavy and opaque, the circulation spine is light and translucent. This allows a connection between building and plaza.

The Deck - The south-facing deck becomes a central gathering point for the three museums, as well as the Helsinki Design District. The deck is designed as a clean slab to allow for gallery openings, art installations, and temporary pavilions.

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Status: School Project
Location: Helsinki, FI
My Role: Designer