Helsinki Guggenheim Proposal

When the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation issued a call for entries for an international architectural competition to design the Helsinki Guggenheim Museum, we responded with a proposal declaring that today’s art museum serves many functions and if it is to perform them all well, these should be separated into distinct structures because each has different requirements in regard to space, daylight, and façade. In this instance, we suggested five linked, yet distinct rectilinear buildings, arranged along the length of the site, each to be experienced individually or as a component of the larger complex. In contrast to a grand singular architectural expression, our Guggenheim Helsinki was to be the sum of its parts, each with its own unique voice.

In our proposal, the subtlety and complexity of the museum emerged in the transition between interior and exterior. Inside each of the structures was a second layer of volume, making for a clear distinction between the texture and identity of the exterior and the transparent and dynamic interior. This double skin also helped temper ambient thermal conditions. By separating the programmatic functions in different structures, we sought to create a series of microclimates within the complex, allowing for selective areas of conditioned space, interspersed with passive systems. Large east and west façades were conceived to capture Finland’s limited daylight in winter months, and a gold reflective coating for the glazing was suggested for insulation and solar retention. Our structure’s double-skin membrane was to be crafted of glass, bronze, and locally sourced granite paneling, with light-toned native wood used for the interior structures and finishing to create a warm and serene atmosphere. The location of the complex next to water was a focus of our design, which included water inside and around the buildings that is used to generate reflections on the façade. When lit, this makes for a luminous building even during Finland’s dark winter.

We also proposed a geothermal heat exchanger to retain thermal mass and to provide energy, with louvered openings to utilize natural ventilation for cooling and fresh air intake. Each of the structures featured a green roof to harvest rainwater and provide insulation, with one specially outfitted to also serve as a sculpture garden.

While our proposal was not selected as a finalist, we were one of 32 projects featured in ArchDaily’s 12.19.14 article, “32 Helsinki Guggenheim Proposals You Should Know About.”