Finnish practice JKMM’s newest project, The Dance House Helsinki, is set to become Finland’s first venue dedicated primarily to dance and the performing arts. Offering rehearsal and performance spaces for artists, Dance House forms an extension to Cable Factory, the largest existing cultural center in Finland.
While the project extends the Cable Factory’s extensive cultural programming, it also reimagines and transforms the center’s current functions. The added courtyard will serve as a new public plaza gathering all of these functions together.
Similarly, though Dance House will have its own distinctive aesthetic identity, this style is naturally combined with the industrial architecture of the Cable Factory, creating an aesthetic symbiosis.
The new building is highly abstract, if not simple. Playing with perceptions of lightness and heaviness, Dance House’s enormous steel facades resemble a kite, as if physically floating in the air. The rusted façade emphasizes the heaviness of the steel, yet the adjacent brushed stainless steel façade ethereally reflects its surroundings and blends in with its built environment. Observed from a distance, the structure appears immaterial, even massless; when examined closer, the building becomes a tremendous industrial machine.
The interiors are purposefully left raw and austere, providing a unique backdrop for the dance performances and art. Essentially versatile black boxes, these rooms are functional and modifiable, able to meet various purposes and audiences of various sizes. Dance House is architecturally designed to feel incomplete until it is filled with dance.
Both dance professionals and Cable Factory workers participated in the design and planning stages of the project, which was a collaboration between JKMM and ILO. Dance House is funded in part by a grant from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and is intended to strengthen the Finnish dance field, increase the number of international visits to the country, and advance the region's performing arts culture.