Guggenheim Helsinki by atelier V




atelier V submitted an entry into the Guggenheim Helsinki International Design Competition (http://designguggenheimhelsinki.org/).  This competition had the largest number of entries in the history of international competitions.  A total of 1,715 entries were submitted from around the world.  The following is the brief as submitted in the atelier V’s entry and all the images and drawings including the actual boards:

Lighthouse as inspiration.


Given the strong maritime history of Finland, location of the museum site at the Etelasatama, the symbolic gateway to the city from the sea and the need for the museum to be the new cultural icon of Helsinki, our concept draws from the most prominent seaside structures of Finland’s history: Majakat or the Lighthouse.  These structures always taller than anything around them, highly visible both day and night, were first symbols of the civilization lying beyond their maritime border.  Guggenheim Helsinki becomes the 21st century cultural symbol of Helsinki at Etelasatama entry point much the same way as the traditional Majakat (lighthouses). The new structure along with The Helsinki and Uspenski Cathedrals triangulate to cement the place of Helsinki amongst World Class cities.   We propose here a very horizontal contrasted by a very vertical place of gathering for families and visitors, a place to navigate through and take in the views, and view art at one’s own pace and pleasure.  The small footprint, height, and prominence of a typical light house as metaphor, and the modernist heritage in Helsinki thus become the ideal starting point for our concept for the new Guggenheim.



With the large site and the significant program, we divided the program into two distinct categories!  Those functions that could and must be accommodated at the base of the building, such as Collection Storage and Management, Maintenance and Operations, Dining and Kitchen, Flexible Performance Hall, loading docks,  and those that must be in the tower, mainly the Exhibition Galleries and administrative offices.  The Museum Tower then became the destination, a visible and distinctive new symbol and an agent for change.  Gallery spaces were divided into 4 wood clad two story volumes in the Finnish Wood Tradition floating inside the transparent tower’s outer skin.  A gently sloped ramp reminiscent of NY Guggenheim could take the visitor all the way from ground floor lobby to all the gallery levels and as well as the Sky Winter Gardens which separated the galley floors.  The Sky Winter Gardens become places for socialization, dining, temporary and experiential art exhibits, retail stores, classes, etc.  Taking the Public Space “Vertical” as well as horizontal, allows us to take full advantage of available views!  The entire experience of traversing through the gentle ramps up the building and the Sky Winter Gardens would give the visitor magnificent and varying views of the Helsinki City and Waterfront.  As the visitor takes the ramp from one level to another, he/she gets glimpses of the art that is on display within the gallery pod through carefully placed window displays facing out!


The Gallery Pods are solid walled and completely controlled environments with high ceilings and they each get controlled natural lighting from carefully located skylights at each Sky Garden Level and through the building’s transparent ventilated outer skin which at night turns into a Digital Art Canvas.  Below each gallery space level is a normal ceiling height administrative office/archival level with windows out to the view.  These levels typically house all the public restroom facilities as well which are easily accessible from the Gallery or Sky Garden levels by going a level down or up.


The top most sky garden is accessible to an open rooftop observation deck during the good weather with a Helipad on top.


The base of the building is a gradual sloping plaza/sculpture garden which starts at the vehicle drop off area at the entry intersection of Etelaranta and Laivasillankatu and rises gently for the entire length of the site to connect via a pedestrian bridge to the Tahtitornin Vuori Park.  The entire plaza will be surfaced with local cobble stone and strips of turf interspersed with temporary and permanent works of sculpture.  Under this plaza, are all the support function of the building such as Collection and storage, Maintenance and operations, Loading Docks, VIP Parking, a new 1000 SM Passenger terminal , Café and restaurant and the Flexible Performance Hall which pokes through the plaza and presents itself as a backdrop for digital media presentations during concerts and events.  In essence, the raised plaza at the base of the new Guggenheim Tower becomes an extension of the park and its connection to the sea. The Tower’s limited footprint preserves the views of Etelasatama from the Tahtitornin Vuori.





By conceiving the museum as a tower and reducing its  physical footprint not only the views of Etelasatama from Tahtitornin Vuori  Park have been preserved, the carbon footprint of the building has been minimized, all while maximizing its efficiency structurally and energy-wise.  This concept has additionally allowed for allocation of maximum site area to use of plazas, green roof space for social gathering and events while housing the ancillary function of the museum protected and out of view on the ground level.  The use of Sky Winter Gardens as additional social gathering spaces with natural light and supply of fresh air through the tower’s double skin digital facade provide for maximum comfort and energy saving throughout Helsinki’s four seasons.





A museum of 21st century no longer needs to follow the path of traditional closed box museums.  We are proposing here a place of gathering for family and visitors, a place to navigate through and take in the views and view art at your own pace and pleasure.  A prominent new symbol for the city visible from afar.  A maritime icon using Finnish wood as its primary cladding material supplanted by the transparency of glass.  A Sustainable and efficient structure built for the long term.  A timeless statement far from the architectural jargon of the day! A Museum different than any other in the world!

For more information on this project please visit www.atelierv.com


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