Guggenheim Helsinki Competition 2014

Mid way through 2014 the Guggenheim Foundation opened its first ever open, anonymous, international architectural competition. 1715 submissions from 77 countries were received when submissions closed mid September, making it among one of the largest in history of design competitions.

John Henry Architects summary for the entry is as follows:

Helsinki‘s Etelasatama Harbour is the site for the new and innovative Guggenheim Museum. The area is a rich melange of traditional architecture, period buildings and is also a working port. It is at a pivotal point where parkland, significant harbour-side buildings, services and the port functionally integrate into each other harmoniously.

The design takes cues from traditional Finnish architecture, urban context and the function of the site.  The building is an asymmetrical juxtaposition of forms; derived from axis, view lines and traffic/pedestrian movements.  A solid timber wall forms a strong street façade.  This curved wall leads to the main entrance where the intricate juxtaposition of geometrical shapes is dramatically revealed. This is softened with the green landscape peeping through the voids between the structures.  A mirrored glass box interrupts this wall providing glimpses of the gallery within. The mirrored façades reflect the surrounding buildings and the harbour itself. The museum surrealistically integrates into the urban fabric, with its façades evolving continuously as time and world go by.

A new street vista is created through the high walkway connecting Bernhardinkatu Street to the site via Tahititornin Vuori Park and terminates at the water’s edge. This emulates the traditional Finnish urban design where all streets lead to the harbour.  The skywalk separates the site in two, with green corridor to one side while continuing along the site to the Museum entrance and up towards the Market Hall on the other side. This urban space connects the park to the harbour, while generating a place for people to come and visit the museum, enjoy the water’s edge and the landscape. The museum façades on the harbour-side and the outdoor areas can be lit up for projection exhibitions.

Internally it is a blank canvas for the art to speak. The galleries have the option to continuously connect into each other or isolate each floor to suit exhibitions. The high ceiling of the entry foyer allows the space to be utilised vertically for sculptural installations.

The sculptural building aims to make the Guggenheim Museum Helsinki a landmark destination. The cafe, restaurant, galleries and the new ferry terminal open into the urban square leading back to the Museum. This space will form a public place that allows a multitude of uses from an amphitheatre, space for sculptural installations, a place to dine or bask in the sun to a place for the city to hold community events.

The Guggenheim will not only be a state of the art gallery but also a centre for performing art. The separate performance hall-restaurant will allow gastronomic experiences for concerts and casual dining after hours throughout the year.

The design aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the building and respect the vernacular architecture. The sustainable timber façades defines the built form whilst providing soft contrast to the mirrored surfaces. The design also incorporates a reflective solar panelled roof, water tanks and utilise natural light through sky light and courtyard.

The design is of an architectural sculpture. That is Guggenheim.