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Sito a winner in the lighting design competition ‘Valossa’

The magnificent proposal by Sito lighting designers ‘Out of the Cold into Warmth’ won one of the grand prizes in the lighting design competition ‘Valossa’ (‘In Spotlight’) organized by Senate Properties.

Simple is beautiful

The comprehensive proposal by Suvi Saastamoinen, Niina Meronen, Martti Paakkinen and Mikko Rikala is a magnificent and unique solution for joining together two different types of museum buildings located in the same block by means of lighting.

Senate Properties wants to celebrate the Centenary of Finland’s Independence by organizing the lighting design competition ‘Valossa’. The organization intends to light the National Museum, the Opera House, the office center of Pasila as well as the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum by means of light art to honor the centenary, but on a permanent basis.

A separate winner, awarded with 10,000 euros, was sought for every site. The competition period began at the beginning of June and ended on 9 September. A total of 38 proposals were sent in.

The most challenging and inspiring

Regarding design, the most challenging of the sites was definitely the entity formed by the two museums – the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum – and, according to Suvi Saastamoisen, that is exactly why the Sito design team found it so inspiring. The facades of these imposing buildings have been in need of an accentuating and attractive lighting for quite some time. – This has been the case particularly during the dark season of the year and in the evenings, when attractive lighting plays a big role, and there are a lot of visitors in the museum, says Jukka Savolainen, Museum Director at Design Museum.

According to him, the museum had already been considering various lighting solutions for its facade, and now it is looking forward to implementation of the winning proposal.

The Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum, both of historical and architectural importance, are located in the same block, and the intention is to use light as a way of naturally guiding visitors from one museum to the other. The lighting concept emphasizes the individual nature of each building, on one hand, and the unity of the block and the bond between the buildings, on the other.

– The proposal creates a ‘carpet of light’ on the sidewalk surrounding the block, where the temperature of color subtly slides from a warm tone of light to cool one. The selected tones accentuate the colors of these historically valuable buildings: the warmth of the red-brick Design Museum and the coolness of the light-plastered walls of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Suvi Saastamoinen describes.

A carpet of light and washed by light

The carpet of light, with its tone that subtly changes, functions as a kind of a giant signpost integrated into light that leads the visitor almost unnoticeably from one side of the block to the other – from the Design Museum on Korkeavuorenkatu to the Museum of Finnish Architecture on Kasarmikatu. The passers-by weave their own interesting patterns of color and shadows on the surface of this carpet.

In the same style as the carpet of light, the facades of the buildings will also be lit with different temperatures of color. The facade lighting will be implemented using simple lights accentuating the flanks of the buildings. They will be washed by light which also contributes to the idea of a carpet of light leading from one building to the other.

Unique and subtle

According to the competition jury, the comprehensive ‘Out of the Cold into Warmth’ unites the block in a pleasant way, separating it from the surrounding environment. This kind of an art work made with light has never been implemented in Helsinki before. The jury liked the simplicity of the proposal, and, since it represents the latest technology, it is easy to transform in the future.

Juulia Kauste, Director at Museum of Finnish Architecture and member of the jury, also appreciated the subtlety of the winning proposal. – We have changing exhibitions in our museum. In such a case, pure and simple lighting is preferred.

Further development phase ahead

As customary in Sito, the design team of the winning competition proposal ‘Out of the Cold into Warmth’ represents various areas of specialty, including expertise in landscape architecture, lighting planning, industrial design and urban design.

– At Sito, no matter what kind of a challenge we face, we can always find a team of experts that is capable of coming up with new ideas as solutions for the assignments given. Once we start further design of our proposal with Senate Properties and bring Sito’s virtual lighting designers onboard, we will certainly have the most competent and creative lighting designer team there is to find in Finland, says Mikko Rikala, beaming with satisfaction.

Senate Properties strives to implement as many of the sites included in the lighting competition as possible, and they should be completed well before the Finnish Independence Day, 6 December, of 2017.

Teksti Dakota Lavento


It is easy to smile when you are the winner. In the photo, from left to right, Mikko Rikala, Niina Meronen, Suvi Saastamoinen and Martti Paakkinen