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The Guggenheim has announced the finalists in the competition to design Guggenheim Helsinki, whittling down the entrants from a record-breaking 1715 submissions to just six. Representing both emerging and established practices with offices in seven countries, the shortlisted entries show a variety of responses to the challenge of creating a world-class museum.
The six finalists are:
AGPS Architecture Ltd (Zurich, Switzerland and Los Angeles, US)
Asif Khan Ltd (London, UK)
Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, US; Barcelona, Spain and Sydney, Australia)
Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart, Germany)
Moreau Kusunoki Architect (Paris, France)
SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid, Spain and Western Australia)
“The final shortlist encompasses a number of different scenarios: from schemes which are more experimental in engaging with the program and whose outward form will only emerge in the second phase, to ones that might seem more resolved from the outside but whose programmatic concept will only evolve fully in the second phase,” notes the jury’s official statement, adding that “The single theme, which linked the chosen six, and united the jury, was the impulse to expand the idea of what a museum can be. How can this new museum create a vital, meaningful, public, and intellectual presence within Helsinki?”
Though the six winning practices have been named, in order to keep the competition anonymous and the jury impartial they will not be matched to the six designs until the competition is completed. The finalists now have until March 2015 to refine their proposals, and they will be invited to the site in January to receive further briefing to develop the potential in their designs. When the winner is selected in June, they will be awarded €100,000 ($136,000), with each of the five runners-up receiving €55,000 ($75,000).
“Each of the finalists offers a distinctive and original way to create new public space for Helsinki, and each challenges the Guggenheim to develop unprecedented models of museum programming,” said Mark Wigley, the chair of the competition jury. “Some designs make daring use of the existing Makasiini Terminal, or recall an aspect of the cultural memory of Helsinki. Some propose unforeseen mixtures of civic and museum space, or boldly juxtapose the spaces for more traditional exhibition making with new kinds of space for not-yet-imagined creations. All of the shortlisted designs are a compelling first step, and we eagerly look forward to seeing how they are more fully explored in the next stage of the competition.”
The shortlist is mostly composed of very young architects, with AGPS Architecture – founded in 1984 – the only practice more than seven years old. Asif Khan, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, and SMAR Architecture Studio were all founded in 2007; while Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 and Moreau Kusunoki Architectes were both founded just two years ago in 2012.
“As we saw from the unprecedented response to Stage One of the competition, this open, independent process has brought to Helsinki exciting, innovative design ideas from all over the world,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.
The finalists in detail
From the Jury’s statement: The Jury felt this was a unique proposal, with a grouping of pavilions creating a continuation of the city. The scheme blended well into the city fabric, reflecting the market close by. The use of natural daylight deep into the plan was praised. However, the Jury was skeptical about the design of the roof scape. The tower-lighthouse created debate amongst the Jury, with concerns over the placement and size of the galleries, nevertheless the Jury felt the overall concept has great potential to redefine the museum as a more urban experience.
From the Jury’s statement: The Jury praised the industrial vernacular of the design, with its internal flexibility and external effect. This was felt to be a very compelling response to the Guggenheim principles for the new museum even if it was not fully developed yet. There was a very strong organizing concept with public/incubator on the ground floor and exhibition above. The low form yet pronounced silhouette was considered particularly interesting.
From the Jury’s statement: The Jury praised the integration of image and technology, and called the design simple but extraordinary. Jurors thought the scheme had such a density of visual impact that it would draw a nickname from the public but also needs to develop an equally compelling internal logic as the internal program is still too diagrammatic. The proposal used the aesthetic of the building as a sustainable energy device. There were some potential concerns raised over construction risks.
From the Jury’s statement: This proposal responded well to the cityscape and the site, using the materials from the existing buildings and creating close relationships with its surroundings. The architecture is based on an evolving ecology of materials, forms and atmospheres. The scheme was based on an old store house, which was felt to be a subtle concept with a great deal of potential both for the museum and for the urban and social fabric.
From the Jury’s statement: This scheme demonstrated a good understanding of how the city works and the proposal presented valuable research demonstrating a new direction for the museum internally and in relation to the urban fabric. There is particular attention to public space and the potential exhibition spaces were considered authentic. The Jury acknowledged the scheme was at an early, conceptual phase, but its non-stereotypical approach was seen to open up a particularly promising future for the project on the site.
From the Jury’s statement: The Jury praised the basic concept behind the proposal. The use of timber seemed especially elegant and the internal courtyard could be memorable with circuits of independent galleries. The use of nine lifts was especially questioned by the Jury but it was felt that the gallery ‘rooms’ could work well if the horizontal and vertical circulation scheme could be developed both in terms of efficiency and complexity of visitor experience.
The jury had advanced access to the designs from October 15th, and met together in Helsinki from 30 October to 3 November to select the six finalists, working in five pairs to select the longlist, then two groups of five to find the shortlist. The eleven-strong jury for the competition consisted of:
Mark Wigley, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University (chair)
Mikko Aho, director of City Planning and Architect, City of Helsinki
Jeanne Gang, founder and principal, Studio Gang Architects
Juan Herreros, founder and principal, Estudio Herreros
Anssi Lassila, architect and founder, OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture
Erkki Leppävuori, president and CEO, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Rainer Mahlamäki, Professor and founder, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
Helena Säteri, director general, Ministry of the Environment, Finland
Nancy Spector, deputy director and Jennifer and David Stockman chief curator, Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder, Atelier Bow-Wow
Ritva Viljanen, Deputy Mayor, City of Helsinki
Check out Australian Design Review‘s piece on University of Technology Sydney architecture course director Urtzi Grau’s successful entry here.
“6 Finalists Revealed in Guggenheim Helsinki Competition” by Rory Stott was originally published on ArchDaily, 02 Dec 2014.
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