Conceived as homage to the Guggenheim brand, the Guggenheim Helsinki works also as a critique of the institutional and typological influences upon museum design in general. The concept is a meditation on two intertwined experiential objectives. The first consisting of the primary museum circulation as a continuously evolving loop with various spurs to pause and engage the City, the Port, and the Park, and the second a constructed path between the Park and the City piercing the center oculus of the museum. In the spirit of turning the institution inside out, GH should serve as an open, accessible, and flexible venue bringing vast contemporary and historical traditions to the people. The design welcomes emerging artistic experimentation into a complex courtyard typology. The Guggenheim Helsinki will create a space of immersion in artistic production, altered by the natural and urban landscapes of Helsinki, specifically those of Tahititornin vuori Park, Esplanadi, and Market Square.

Connection to the adjacent Tahititornin vuori Park – part landscape, part gangway – establishes the essential vision of the GH’s relationship to site. Bridging to the roof deck, the park transforms into public space that while dependent on the physical structure of the museum, remains physically independent of the institution within. The Park Stair marks an energy-shed from the park and its adjacent residential neighborhoods, cascading through the building, carrying visitors with it and spilling them back into the city Art Market forecourt below. Engagement with these passers-through becomes more oblique, and perhaps more provocative, than for those inside, at right angles to installations. Juxtaposed galleries flank the Public Garden, look out, offering a reflection on aesthetic, spatial, and institutional relationships. An examination of production, presentation and reception of art is a curatorial mandate at the GH and the highly polarized yet flexible plan is an evocative instrument and setting towards that end.

Reinforcing the notion that art is conceived of and produced by the people and in an iterative and evolutionary method, the design objective of the GH is as an instrument for artists, historians, curators, and visitors to test, research, and experiment with a vast range of cultural influences. This proposal therefore serves not only as an experiential and interactive symbol for art, but also as an iconic incubator, open to the citizens of Helsinki and welcoming various cultural influences. In addition to the institutional directive related to art by virtue of the project’s position, the GH has the unique responsibility to serve as a cultural destination for the city’s inhabitants and visitors. Therefore, the building’s relationship to the site is developed to encourage activities to trace through the GH and, conversely, to flow out of the institution. Expanding upon Helsinki’s traditional and contemporary architectural typologies, GH’s various architectural responses are deployed to produce uniquely performing public spaces around and through the museum fully integrating it within its culture, context, and site.

Project Team: Aaron Neubert (Principal), Jeremy Limsenben, Xiran Zhang, David Chong, William Hogan