Shared imagination and between waves - the themes of Marsio and Otakaari 2B's art collections reflect Aaltonians

The themes, artists and drafts of the new buildings' public art collections were published. The works of the Marsio building are by Laura Könönen and Maija Luutonen. The works of the Otakaari 2B building are by Baptiste Debombourg
A stairway leading down to a sunlight-filled lobby, with two paintings on the concrete walls of the staircase.
Maija Luutonen's Centerfold (in the cenre) and Kimono (upper right corner) at the staircase of the Marsio building. Illustration image: Maija Luutonen

Two new buildings are being built in the heart of Aalto University's Otaniemi campus, and approximately one percent of the budget for the construction projects will be allocated to art acquisitions. In addition to commissioned works that follow the themes of the art collections of the Marsio and Otakaari 2B buildings, photographs and graphics are purchased directly for the buildings.

The art theme in the Marsio building (Otakaari 2A) is Sharing Imaginations, which refers to sharing imagination and experiences with others. The theme describes that sharing imagination is necessary in order to be able to discuss, internalise new things, work together, create new things, network with others and function as a community.

The aim of Marsio's public art collection was to make extensive use of Aalto's different disciplines. Especially the art located in the outer areas is especially important for the students of Aalto University. It was also requested that the works would bring out humor. Artist Laura Könönen was chosen to create the outdoor artwork and five paintings by artist Maija Luutonen were chosen to be placed in Marsio's staircases.

A proposal image of a sculpture made of two upward spiking granite pieces, with a white cardboard person depicting human scale in the middle of the two pieces.
Laura Könösen teosehdotus Glitch, joka sijoittuu Marsio-rakennuksen ulkopuolelle. Kuva: Laura Könönen

A glitch and detached memories guide inside Marsio

Könönen's work Glitch consists of partly carved and partly burnt Finnish black granite. As its name suggests, the work presents a glitch, the unexpected changes brought by the disturbance can also open up new, creative possibilities for understanding.

'A glitch in colour or quality of stone is an error in the industrial world, but it is a gift for an artist. Is all life on earth a glitch itself?', characterizes Könönen. The Glitch sculpture will be placed near the entrance to Marsio.

Luutonen's paintings Centerfold, Kimono, Laput, Lasit and Lehdet are in a staircase of Marsio leading from the first floor to the third floor of the building.

An illustration image from inside Marsio building. A staicase landing, where Maija Luutonen's painting Lehdet is on the concrete wall.
Maija Luutonen's Lehdet painting in the staircase of the Marsio building. Illustration image: Maija Luutonen

'I have for a long time addressed memory and especially forgetting as part of my practice. For me these concepts have to do with looking, recognition and repetition. This sketch is a work consisting of several images that can be thought of like disconnected memories or notes but out of which it is still possible for the viewer to form a whole or make connections while walking the stairs by holding previously seen parts in their mind. It is not possible to see all the parts at the same time so the viewer has to trust their memory', Luutonen describes her works.

Baptiste Debombourgin teosehdotus heijastelee Otakaari 2B -rakennuksen ikkunoiden muotoa, mutta on aaltoilevampi teos sijoittuen rakennuksen julkisivuun.
Small scale model of Baptiste Debombourg's proposal for the façade of Otakaari 2B. Photo: Baptiste Debombourg

Undulating motion carries away

The theme of the Otakaari 2B building art collection Waves in-between / In-between waves chases after the idea of waves. How many different ways can waves be approached in art? For example, colours, light and sound can also be experienced as waves. There is also an interesting notion of technological changes as analog waves are curved, but digital waves are square.

An illustration image of Baptiste Debombourg's wave-like art proposal for Otakaari 2B building's lobby area.
Baptiste Debombourg's proposal for lobby art undulates inside Otakaari 2B. Illustration image: Baptiste Debombourg

Waves also include the idea of repetition, which is present in many art techniques, but especially in traditional graphic art. The Finnish word aalto means wave in English. The aim is to create a vibrant environment, which gives joy and new thought for students and researchers alike.

Artist Baptiste Debombourg will create the  works for the exterior and interior of the entrance to Otakaari 2B. The outdoor artwork located on the façade of the building reflects the shapes of the windows of Otakaari 2B, from which an uninterrupted flow moves towards the limited space.

Debombourg's indoor art is more undulating, and the waves that form in it welcome the visitor. Together the works form a common entity that brings a new perspective to the building, materialising the entrance while respecting its architecture, and gives passers-by something to think about in the form of a new landmark. Otakaari 2B will mainly be used by the School of Science and the School of Electrical Engineering.

More information 
Outi Turpeinen, Manager, art and exhibitions 
[email protected], tel. +358 50 431 4194   

Developer Aalto University Campus & Real Estate
Contractor: NCC
Design: SARC Architects

Working groups for Marsio & Otakaari 2B art concepts and art prosals

The vision of public art at Aalto University  

In 2017, Aalto University decided to comply with a one per cent art principle in its building projects. The one per cent art principle was first applied to the Radical Nature art concept in Aalto University’s main building, Dipoli.

The vision of public art at Aalto University is to address and raise questions about what it is to be a university, what we do together in society, and what constitutes the public. Public art is site-specific and connects with the diversity of the university and its post-disciplinary communities. Public artworks reflect this diversity through different art forms, materials, techniques and traditions. 

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Renata Jakowleff «Blue» 2017, 190 x 160 x 40 cm, glass and steel, assembled Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Public art collections at Aalto University

The aim of public art across Aalto is to create a vibrant environment for experiencing the world through various perspectives and for embracing imagination, intuition, and exploration.

Research & Art
Front and back covers of book called Unfolding Public Art. Text in red, book covers in sand colour.

Unfolding public art book discusses the role of public art at Aalto University

Unfolding public art book is based on the university's art collection


More about the buildings

Illustration image depicting what Otakaari 2 could look like, people walking and cycling near Otakaari and Maarintie, man with sunglasses looks to the viewer, its sunny and there's an event in the corner of the building

Otakaari 2: Marsio and Kide

Building of Marsio & Kide began in February 2022, to be completed in 2023-2024

Illustration image of an early autumn day, depicting Otakaari 2B from the opposite side of Tietotie. Some leaves are on the ground, there are people walking on campus, undistinguishable faces.

Suggest a new name for Otakaari 2B building

Send your proposal latest by 7 August!

Illustration image set in sunset, depicting Otakaari 2 buildings in the future. People walking around and the lights are on in the building.

Two new buildings to be built in the centre of Otaniemi campus

Building Otakaari 2A & 2B begins in January 2022, construction to be completed by summer 2023

Illustration image on a sunny day as the sun is setting, of Otakaari 2A, the lights in the building are lit and there are blurry images of people walking around. Grass and trees are green.

The new Marsio building is a showcase for research, teaching and impact at Aalto University

The name was selected through a contest, and it is a tribute to Aino Marsio-Aalto.

Jukka Mäkelä ja Ilkka Niemelä

Long live the campus! The foundation laying ceremony of Otakaari 2 celebrated the university's new buildings

The foundation of the Otaniemi campus' newest buildings, Otakaari 2A and 2B, was laid on September 29. The new name of the Otakaari 2A building was also revealed at the event

A man and woman in casual wear, dark tones, smiling at the camera inside the Aalto Hall.

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