Guggenheim Museum, Helsinki 

ATTITUDE Architecture, a design firm from Bucharest, Romania recently unveiled its design entry for an International Design Competition. The aim of this competition is to choose a design for Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki, Finland. The motive was to create an edifice which conforms to the Guggenheim brand while reflecting the culture as well as history of Helsinki, once considered the Mecca of design and architecture.The Helsinki City Council feels that Guggenheim as a brand would be able to attract millions of tourists thus improving the profile of existing cultural institutions in the city.

The site is on the Southern Harbor of the city. To capitalize on the location, the designers have provided glass façade on the waterfront that also acts as entry into the museum. This also provides an interesting perspective for the visitors as they feel like remembering the history of the city while being overlooked by the remnants of the golden era of the city which are visible in the backdrop.

Site Plan-Courtesy of Attitude Architects

Site Plan-Courtesy of Attitude Architecture

The building has been broadly divided into three parts based on functionality as well as form. This helps the visitors to easily explore the various galleries.The designers have intentionally left the paths open in order to give freedom to the visitors rather than ‘directing’ them to follow a certain path. This will help in segregating crowd as well as giving a sense of adventure.

Courtesy of Ion Calugaru

Courtesy of Ion Calugaru

The city in itself gives a feeling of an open air museum with tourists wandering on bicycles or foot just appreciating the rich history all around.A huge atrium encased by glass facing the sea provides an impressive view with the picturesque backdrop of Helsinki’s most famous buildings from inside.It also acts as a transition space between the urban sprawl and museum. The glass facade acts as a mirror reflecting the buildings as well as sea when seen from below. The play of lights with sea as well mirror also creates interesting compositions during night.

Concept-Courtesy of Attitude Architects

Concept-Courtesy of Attitude Architecture

The floor plans are simplistic with mini bridges acting as a connection between the two sections of the building above the atrium sitting space. While using these connecting bridges, one gets a glimpse of the city as well as sea thus making sure that there is a continuous interaction with nature while being inside the building. Sustainability factors have also been taken care of as local materials like Siberian Larch wood and steel has been used in the building. Also, the implementation of technologies like Piezoelectricity as well as Grey water system enhances the sustainable character of the building making it more environment-friendly.Use of cantilevered copper roof is another distinctive feature of the building.

Sustainability-Courtesy of Attitude Architects

Sustainability-Courtesy of Attitude Architecture

Even though the design is aesthetically pleasing in itself, it does not mesh well with its surrounding. While the neighborhood is dominated by architecture of eighteenth century, the sudden appearance of a modern era building does not complement the senses. One might also say that the form of the building does not stand in the ‘never seen before’ category for which the Guggenheim brand is most famous. Perhaps a bit more effort in making the museum in-tune to its location could have fetched an even more appealing and jaw-dropping design.

Location: Helsinki, Finland
Architect: Attitude Architecture
Project Team: Ion Calugaru, Stefan Nita-Erdely-Harko, Razvan Ambarus, Dan Androne, Victor Dachin, Alina Gaiu, Diana Neamtu, Catalin Gherman, George Dinu
Year: 2014
Images: Courtesy of  Ion Calugaru

By: Vaibhav Sharma

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