EMA 30 / Tiny tour of models: Shopping centre for Rovaniemi

Mai Šein, 1990–1991. EAM MK 251

In 1990, Rovaniemi County organised a competition for the construction of a shopping centre and hotel complex in Rovaniemi opposite the Arktikum Science Centre across the Ounasjoki River. The centre was intended to house the county government, a hotel, shopping centre and market. The Arctic Circle and Santa Claus Village, a couple of kilometres away, were going to be marked with a special gateway. Architecture firms from Rovaniemi, Oulu and Kemi were invited to participate in the competition. The competition was won by architect Mai Šein, representing the Finnish architectural firm Poskiparta OY. Mai Šein: “I associate Lapland with mountains, so I made a large pyramid-shaped hotel and for the gate I planned a giant openwork globe, positioned above the driveway. The two polar circles were marked; the Antarctic Circle was a footpath for walking along, and the city of Rovaniemi was marked on the Arctic Circle. The adjacent area was an empty site and the participants had to make suggestions about how it could be used. I designed a square building and called it the Nabatorium. A granite wall divided the building diagonally in two – on one side was the South Pole with penguins, on the other the North Pole with polar bears.” Due to an economic downturn, the complex was never built. Mai Šein donated the model to the Estonian Museum of Architecture in 2019. Text: Anne Lass


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