Xypex crystalline waterproofing admix protects priceless art in new Helsinki museum

Xypex crystalline waterproofing admix protects priceless art in new Helsinki museum

Figure 1: Lasipalatsi Plaza in Helsinki, Finland, is transformed by the new Amos Rex art museum built directly below it.
Figure 1: Lasipalatsi Plaza in Helsinki, Finland, is transformed by the new Amos Rex art museum built directly below it.

Like an alien funhouse, the multidomed ceiling of the subterranean Amos Rex Art Museum in Finland pushes up from below Helsinki’s Lasipalatsi Plaza (Figure 1) to create an interactive outdoor playscape. The plaza features five mounds of varying sizes, each equipped with large portholes serving the dual purpose of providing passersby with a glimpse of the artistic treasures below and abundant natural light to illuminate more than 2200 m2 (23,680 sf) of columnless galleries.

Planning for the new museum began in early 2013 when the Föreningen Konstsamfundet art foundation, established as the bequest of philanthropist newspaper publisher (Figure 2) Amos Anderson, began the search for a new home for the Amos Anderson Art Museum (Figure 3). The nearby functionalist-style Lasipalatsi (glass palace) building offered an inviting home but, due to its historic significance, could not be modified sufficiently to accommodate the entire museum.

Figure 4: Helsinki-based JKMM Architects proposed a bold plan to renovate and incorporate the Lasipalatsi complex, including the 590-seat art-deco Bio Rex theatre, with a new subterranean art museum under Lasipalatsi square.
Figure 4: Helsinki-based JKMM Architects proposed a bold plan to renovate and incorporate the Lasipalatsi complex, including the 590-seat art-deco Bio Rex theatre, with a new subterranean art museum under Lasipalatsi square.

Helsinki-based JKMM Architects proposed a bold plan to renovate and incorporate the Lasipalatsi complex, including the 590-seat art-deco Bio Rex (Figure 4) theatre, with a new subterranean art museum under Lasipalatsi square. The art museum site was a vacant, paved plaza that formerly served as a bus station and military parade ground (Figure 5). JKMM’s plans called for a two-storey deep excavation of the plaza, requiring the excavation of nearly 14,000 m3 (500,000 cf) of soil and bedrock (Figures 6 and 7).

The museum would feature a main gallery floor and a lower level for art storage and mechanical equipment with the two floors connected by stairs and an elevator. Steel-reinforced concrete footers, floor slabs, and walls were used to form the main structure. The roof of the museum was built with 200-mm (8-in.) thick steel-reinforced concrete. A thick insulation layer, glass foam fill, and a top layer of exposed concrete provides a base for tiled domes and asphalt (Figure 8).

A major concern for the project manager and JKMM design team was the need for absolute moisture resistance in the concrete foundation and walls. At a depth of 14 m (45 ft), the foundation would be at least 7 m (23 ft) below the average water table for that area and facing constant hydraulic pressure. The plan to use the lowest level of the museum for the storage of art and equipment meant any influx of water through the foundation could result in a costly disaster.

The design team considered many waterproofing options, including membranes, coatings, and concrete additives.

“Other companies came forward claiming to be comparable to Xypex. However, our track record on a global scale with similar deep-foundation projects convinced them we were the right choice,” notes Ronald Sulin, Xypex sales manager for Finland. “We also demonstrated our confidence in our product by providing a 15-year warranty, which no other manufacturer could match.”

All information listed in this section was submitted by Xypex Chemical Corp.
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