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Finnish Nature Center Haltia

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

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Finnish Nature Center Haltia

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Project Description


“Nature is a myth in Finland,” says Finnish architect and professor Rainer Mahlamäki, the head designer of the Finnish Nature Center Haltia at Lahdelma Mahlamäki Architects. He continues, “Nature has powerfully inspired Finnish art and architecture, and Haltia follows that tradition.”
The Finnish Nature Center Haltia opens to the public on May 31, 2013. Located in the Nuuksio National Park in the Helsinki metropolitan area, 20 miles from the Helsinki city center, Haltia brings the most treasured Finnish nature to the doorsteps of the Finnish capital through exhibitions and functions.
Mahlamäki’s inspiration to the design came from the Finnish national epic Kalevala. According to Kalevala, the earth was created from an egg of a mythological Goldeneye duck. The building resembles a duck hatching an egg, and a giant duck’s egg occupies the center of the main exhibition hall. The egg houses a video art installation by Finnish artist Osmo Rauhala, who gives another interpretation of the creation of the earth by birds, now accomplished by swans by a game of chess.
Haltia also honors the earth by sustainable architecture. The building makes maximum use of wood in the exterior, interior and structural elements. It utilizes solar and geothermal energy for heating and cooling, achieving 75-percent self-sufficiency in heating energy and 100-percent self-sufficiency in cooling energy. Energy needs are reduced by a roundish building shape and a green roof. Building technologies include self-adjusting air conditioning and lighting.
Haltia’s mission is to allow people to learn about and experience Finnish nature in the exhibitions ranging from southern Finland’s archipelago to the fell tops of Lapland in the far north. Haltia seeks to convey to visitors the power of nature to promote wellbeing, and it encourages people to go out to nature.
The main exhibition is composed of nature films, photographs, and an animated panorama landscape complete with sound. The exhibits present all 37 national parks of Finland. Special exhibits allow visitors to wander in nocturnal Finnish wilderness, to step into a wilderness hut, and even to crawl into a hibernating bear’s den. The Green Belt exhibition presents the nature reserves and other green space in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Thematic temporary exhibitions offer new perspectives to nature and culture.
Services include an in-house restaurant specializing in Finnish flavors and in local and organic foods. Marked trails encourage visitors to go on hikes in the adjoining Nuuksio National Park, and guided hiking tours are available for groups.
Haltia is owned and operated by Metsähallitus, a Finnish state institution that administers 30 million acres of Finnish state-owned land and water including all national parks. Metsähallitus operates nature centers at the Finnish national parks.

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