Guggenheim Helsinki

Along with 1,714 other architects from around the world, we entered an open competition to design a new Guggenheim satellite museum on the Helsinki waterfront.

We began by studying the program, region, city, local materials, and buildings. We were drawn to a number of inspirations: a park pavilion that transforms daily and seasonally, a new sustainable ‘hearth’ for Helsinki built entirely of local materials, a completely flexible exhibit hall, and connections to Finland’s landscape of sea, island, lake, meadow, and forest.


Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Location Helsinki, Finland
Program Museum with waterfront outdoor plaza, entry lobby, flexible display spaces, classrooms, café, kitchen
Year Completed 2014
Photo Credit Centerbrook
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Our scheme envisioned clear span trusses behind full width north-facing clerestory windows in a continual saw-tooth pattern to maximize daylight for the sun-starved northern winters. To harvest that light, the ‘teeth’ had s-shapes to bounce south light from a low sun into the windows and to diffuse it inside for exhibits. This allows the majority of the museum to be open space free for exhibit reconfiguration, but always with soft daylighting.

Under the sawtooth roof (wave-like in profile), the east side of the building facing the harbor was curved glass weaving through a random forest of columns, with walkways inside and out, celebrating the treed Finnish landscape. On the west side, along a busy street and a rocky hill and park, are special function spaces like offices, classrooms, café kitchen, and loading dock, arranged as a random archipelago of stone clad islands (or lakes in plan) that blocked city noise and provided privacy as well as a variety of sizes and shapes. These recall the many marvelous early stone buildings of Helsinki.

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Below are the presentation boards we prepared as part of our competition entry.