Liuku – An interactive sculpture celebrating happy encounters
For Suomen Messusäätiö and Messukeskus
"Helsinki is growing fast. It's important that we don't forget the true meaning of urban space – a safe and inspiring place for a thriving urban living. Play, creativity, surprises and contrasts being fundamental parts of it. Public art such as Liuku is helping to build the identity of the city, as well as serving as an inviting and free of charge delight for everyone."
Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki
Interactive sculpture in an urban space.
Location: Messuaukio, Pasila, Helsinki
Architectural lighting design: Sun Effects
Year: 2019 October
The Messukeskus Expo and Convention Centre promotes Finnish business, know-how and talent year-round. In 2019, Messukeskus is celebrating its centennial. The theme for this year of celebration is “meeting” – the core of all fairs and expos. Messusäätiö (The Finnish Fair Foundation) wanted to celebrate the anniversary with a memorable gift.
We were inspired by the location, the history of fairs and the idea of fairs as the backdrop for happy encounters. We looked back a full century, to the very first fair at Messukeskus, where the guests could entertain themselves on a slide. We designed a solid, durable sculpture, which is easy to dismantle and transport if necessary. We wanted to create a piece that captures the attention of both visitors and passers-by, and tempts them to engage with it.
Liuku is a unique sculpture that has to be experienced hands-on. Its climbable and slidable parts make up the shape of an M, the initial of Messukeskus.
The stairs that lead to the top of the sculpture also function as benches, and those who are feeling brave can slide from the top all the way back down to the street. The sculpture has been tested and determined to be safe for children as well.
The piece is mostly made of sustainable cross-laminated timber. The roof is made of translucent polycarbonate, which creates a thrilling red glow inside the slide. The LED lights make the sculpture shine, creating a landmark that illuminates the square all year round.
Standing seven meters tall and reaching a length of 25 meters, the glowing red slide encourages people to loosen up, have some fun, and create shared experiences.