More than ever, the media shapes architecture. The controversial Helsinki Guggenheim competition is as much about the use and exploitation of contemporary media as it is about design. The competition organisers are hugely proud to have over 1,700 entries to tweet about, but informed critics are less impressed. Has quantity ever guaranteed quality?
The competition has certainly created an impact. Some celebrate this, while others feel it has been detrimental to the profession, with so much unpaid time invested resulting in a low-level contribution to museum design.
Meanwhile, the spectre of Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim, an “iconic” building that gave the American foundation so much positive publicity when it opened in 1997, haunts the Helsinki project. Finnish politicians hope for a similar success, a Sydney Opera postcard effect in this remote corner of the earth.
Aside from attracting a huge level of media interest, the record-breaking competition to design the Guggenheim Museum’s planned outpost in Helsinki also generated a significant level of criticism – not least from Michael Sorkin and his collaborators, who launched a counter-competition seeking alternative suggestions for how the site could be used. In this article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “‘We Mean to Be Provocateurs’: Michael Sorkin on the Next Helsinki Competition,” Zachary Edelson interviews Sorkin on his reaction to the Guggenheim’s shortlist, his hopes for his own competition, and the critical role that museums play in the worlds of both art and architecture.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is famous for its Fifth Avenue museum, but its 1997 Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao outpost famously catapulted its small Basque host city to new levels of international renown. The city’s tourism revenue quickly helped recoup the museum’s extensive costs: $100 million for design and construction, subsidies towards a $12 million annual budget, $50 million for an acquisitions fund, and $20 million to the Guggenheim for its name, curatorial services, and the use of parts of its collection. Within three years, visitors’ spending had garnered $110 million and by 2013 more than 1 million had entered the gleaming metallic structure. Many have tried to replicate Bilbao’s success but opposition against such massive expenditures always looms. In this case, it has manifested in a rival competition led by New York-based architect and writer Michael Sorkin and titled The Next Helsinki.
The search for a design for Helsinki’s new Guggenheim Museum is well under way. Over a thousand entrants submitted anonymous proposals for the harbor-side museum, and though six finalists have now been chosen, the incredible wealth of talent and effort present in the submissions is hard to ignore. We celebrate that talent here, showcasing 32 great designs-that-could-have-been for the Helsinki Guggenheim. Learn more about all of them, after the break!
Dundee, Bilbao, Curitiba, Helsinki and Turin are often considered the cultural epicenters of their respected countries. Therefore it is no surprise that these five metropolises are the latest to achieve UNESCO’s City of Design status. Joining a list of 12 other cities, the newest City of Design selections are being recognized for the international influence on design. By awarding them “City of Design” status, UNESCO hopes to help further the development of creative industries and encourage cross-city cultural exchange in each selected metropolis.
With 1,715 entries submitted, the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition has become the most popular architectural competition in history. Only six proposals have made it through to the final round, however we believe there is something to be learned from the hundreds of proposals that didn’t make the cut. Therefore, if you participated in the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition and would like ArchDaily’s team of architects and editors to review your proposal for publication, we ask you to submit your proposal here (under “Submit an event, competition, award, news”) by Wednesday, December 10. All proposals submitted after this deadline will not be considered. Take a look after the break for the required format for submitting project materials.
The Guggenheim has announced the finalists in the competition to design Guggenheim Helsinki, whittling down the entrants from a record-breaking 1,715 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, United States of America)
- Asif Khan Ltd. (London, United Kingdom)
- Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, United States of America; Barcelona, Spain; and Sydney, Australia)
- Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart, Germany)
- Moreau Kusunoki Architect (Paris, France)
- SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid, Spain and Western Australia)
Read on after the break to see all six designs in detail, as well as the jury’s comments on each.
— Rob Fiehn (@Rob_Fiehn) October 22, 2014
The news that every single one of the 1,715 designs for the future Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki have been released via a new competition website was understandably something of a media storm earlier this week. As the largest ever set of proposals to be simultaneously released to the public, how could anyone possibly come to terms with the sheer number and quality of the designs – let alone all the other issues which the proposals shed light on?
In this instance, the answer to that question is simple: get help. Guggenheim Helsinki will arguably go down in history as the prototypical competition for the social media age, not just for releasing the designs to the public but for their platform which enables people to select favorites, and compile and share shortlists. In the days since the website launched, Twitter users have risen to the challenge. See what some of them had to say after the break.
The competition for the new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki closed last month, becoming the most popular architectural competition in history with 1,715 entries. Now, competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants have made every single one available to view online, with each anonymous proposal presented in a series of two images, and a short description fro the architects. “Since its inception, this competition has been organized to be welcoming, inclusive, and transparent, and the gallery presents a singular opportunity for the public to explore and consider the broad expanse of entries,” says Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.
Competition organizer Malcolm Reading added: “For anyone interested in design, the gallery is a tremendous resource that offers rare insight into the design process and further illustrates how the vision for a Guggenheim Helsinki… [has] captured the imagination of architects around the world.”
And indeed, the website does provide a tremendous tool: with such a huge volume of entries, the database and its associated tagging system offer an interesting way to probe the architectural zeitgeist: for example, it seems ‘curved’ buildings are almost twice as popular as ‘straight’ buildings; and ‘opaque’ buildings are still unpopular, being outpaced by ‘transparent’ buildings by almost five to one, despite the traditionally opaque museum typology.
But when it comes to architectural quality, where do you even begin with 1,715 proposals? The competition’s website has that covered too, with a favorites button, a six-building shortlist tool and a search-by-registration tool. ArchDaily is here to help too: after the break, we’ve hand-picked 50 of the most exciting, unusual, interesting and simply absurd proposals for you to start talking about.
The city of Helsinki has announced plans for a design and build competition for a new commercial and residential district in Pasila, near the city centre. The competition, which calls for 8-10 buildings of 15 stories or more, will be part of the city’s drive to make Pasila the “second centre of Helsinki,” with a total of 150,000-200,000 square metres of residential and office space planned for the district. Read on after the break to find out more about the competition.
Despite Finland’s relatively cool temperatures, climate changes have made heat waves more common in Northern Europe, and the demand for cooling buildings in summer is increasing. Instead of installing air conditioners for individual buildings, Helsinki is pioneering a vast network of underground infrastructure that pumps cold water from lakes and seas into local buildings. Beneath an unassuming park in downtown Helsinki sits a reservoir containing nearly 9 million gallons of water that is recycled and cooled by waste energy after it is used for cooling, replacing the need for air conditioning in the city and cutting carbon pollution by 80%. Read more about this undertaking in this article from Fast Co. Exist.
Take a tour inside ALA Architect’s Helsinki Central Library with a new animation and set of images revealing the project’s spacious interiors. The project, which was awarded to ALA through an international competition, boasts a unique set of programs, such as a ground floor cinema, second story sauna, “Nerd Attic” and dreamy “Book Heaven” that is topped with a cloud-like undulating roof and includes a distinctive outdoor “Citizens’ Balcony.”
As the first phase of the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition concludes, a group of independent arts organizations have launched a search for “alternative” proposals: The Next Helsinki. The counter-competition calls on architects, urbanists, landscape architects, artists, and “all others who love cities to suggest ways in which Helsinki and its South Harbor can be transformed for the maximum benefit of the city.” More information, after the break.
When you visit the galleries of Guggenheim Helsinki, you may have to bring a life vest. This submission to the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition floats the idea of a museum over water, traveling between the ports of St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and Helsinki. Proposed as a hypothetical submission to the worldwide contest, the team at OfficeUS delve into the notion of transience in the new world of architourism. The brief reads: “As a global freeport, the museum develops a completely new infrastructure, offering the strategic tax benefits of freeport art storage while enabling exhibitions of some of the most important pieces of modern art and design.” Upcoming exhibits include (hypothetically) Olafur Elliasson, Yves Klein and Thomas Demand.
The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, first open international competition organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, was officially launched today. Submission deadline for stage one is September 10. A jury that includes Mark Wigley, Jeanne Gang, Juan Herreros, and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto will announce the shortlist during Fall 2014.
Following a detailed Concept and Development Study by the Guggenheim Foundation, the City of Helsinki has reserved a prominent waterfront site for the architectural competition of the proposed museum. The site is located in the Eteläsatama, or South Harbor area, an urban space of great national and cultural significance, close to the historic city center and immediately visible to visitors arriving by sea.
It is envisaged that the Guggenheim Helsinki would organize and present internationally significant exhibitions of artworks from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries while also specializing in Nordic art and architecture. Within the Guggenheim Foundation’s international constellation of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Helsinki would be distinctive in its active inclusion of design and architecture in its programming.
The results of the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space have been announced. The prize organized by the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) rewards both the designers and the facilitators (such as councils or community groups) that have contributed to the best urban interventions of the year. The award is given for ingenuity and social impact, regardless of the scale of intervention, meaning that small, relatively unknown practices can rub shoulders with some of the best-known practices in Europe.
See the 2 Joint Winners and 4 Special Mentions after the break
The Guggenheim is planning a new museum in Helsinki. The site is in the heart of the city, next door to the late 19th Century market hall and open-air market place, two minutes from Helsinki Cathedral. The project, therefore, has great landmark potential for the city. And many Finns are lured by this very potential, wanting to increase tourism and put their capital city more evidently on the world map. There has also been discussion in the country’s main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat about how Finns should welcome a more joyous and fun architecture.
Destination-creation and architecture as entertainment are certainly strong themes of our times. They were treated with great artistry by Frank Gehry with the Bilbao Guggenheim, opened in 1997. However, it’s important to remember that the Bilbao Guggenheim might best be considered a spectacular one-off. Mayors, politicians and world leaders have since sought, in perhaps too facile a way, to rebrand their cities and countries with iconic landmarks. There has been much talk of making cities “world class” through such architectural gestures, and yet much of this marketer’s fodder is wholly out of touch with what makes great architecture great.