By Savitha Hira
Renderings: Courtesy Guggenheim
The winning entry of the much-talked-about and debated Guggenheim Helsinki Museum competition by young Paris-based Architects Moreau Kusunoki not only draws inspiration from the state of contemporary art world over, but translates the prevailing mind-set into pulsating architecture…
‘Art in the city’ as it is christened, is a design in the ‘now’. The historical essence of the city of Helsinki, the rich heritage that Guggenheim carries forth, the established legacy of its iconic buildings world over, the very fabric of the current mind-set that drives global art and culture in the wake of openness, transparency, chaos, intelligible truths amid chaos, lateral thinking, and the insatiable quest for something new, intriguing, beyond the now… forms the essence of this building. Besides, the building also augments possible future footprints in the area of building material and design.
A low (ground-plus-one) horizontally spread footprint strategically juxtaposed by a glass-topped vertical lighthouse-like tower maximised to its scenic surrounds,has an exterior envelope of locally sourced charred glazed wood; the entire building is composed into a set of individual units (nine low lying pavilions)unified by interstitial spaces that are deliberately left undefined – open to multiple possibilities – akin to an urban streetscape.
Extremely briefly, this harbour-side timber-hybrid construction upon a concrete water-tight box is designed for limiting crack width and constructed without joints, with envelopes that have low U-values and excellent air tightness. The signature roofs of the exhibition pavilions have been carefully designed to maximize the penetration of diffuse natural light, whilst avoiding direct daylightthat could damage the works of art. The structural beams supporting the skylights are arranged orthogonally in relation to the exhibition walls and this shed geometry is based on deep V beams; the structural system constructed using Laminated Veneer Lumber to carry loads across the wide open floor span, equipping heavy suspensions for art works, exhibition preparation and maintenance.
Museums are said to be unusual in their design to enable the visitor capture his most memorable moment in a place of profound discovery and awe. Moreau Kusunoki’s design plays on this essential, making sure that all functional spaces are closely woven into the beautiful surrounds and all aesthetic appreciation is conceptualised as an extension of the culture of Helsinki.
The architect duo, who show an ingrained passion for detail, have addressed all parameters with infinitesimal precision – be it environmental and climatic considerations, visitor movement, maintenance, security, entertainment, lighting, ventilation, museum experience, sustainable strategies…et al. No area is secondary; very area and function is built in with equal significance that makes for a holistic homecoming to art. The museum has several entrances from outside to its anti-hierarchical, eventful in-between spaces and aims at “creating a vibrant social atmosphere mixing museum-goers and urban audiences”. The concept of flexibility of use is deftly handled, making the state-of-the-art amenities and their habitats versatile.
What’s more, the Moreau Kusunoki competition entry submission is a captivating narration of their vision for the actualisation of the new museum in a manner that unfolds their every thought, every plan and detail, as if they were accompanying you through every corner of every space they envisage as the next big Guggenheim! We recommend the read at designguggenheimhelsinki.org.