Architecture 256: Africa's Premier Magazine Architecture 256

Guggenheim: Helsinki


This design aims to function as a translator between the urban condition, the public, and the museum spaces. The existing urban edges of the city context define a triangular building mass. Lifting the main exhibition space allows the public and the museum programme to float freely underneath, creating a continuous connection between the urban fabric and water. A 24-metre-high atrium in the raised exhibition space generates a T-shaped hybrid space, combining the qualities of a horizontal exhibition space with those of a vertical one and making three-dimensional displays possible. The grid structure (in Finnish wood) shapes diverse spaces galleries, atrium-like spaces and informal exhibition spaces beyond the physical confines of the building. The design serves as a symbol for a dynamic 21st-century city by shifting the boundaries between open and closed, urban and art, and by creating new opportunities to display, link and create arts within the city. Urban continuity:  By lifting the main exhibition space volume, it links itself to the upper edge of the neoclassical city grid while allowing public and program to float freely underneath, linking the different urban spaces and creating a continues connection beneath the building between the divers harbor functions, binding together city, leisure, art and serious harbor activities. >Hybrid space: By adding a vertical 24 m high atrium to the lifted exhibition space, a T-shaped hybrid space emerges, combining the qualities of a generic horizontal exhibition space, unidirectional flexibility in two dimensions, with those of a vertical exhibition space; exhibitions in three dimensions. The atrium ground will also function as a multi-use space that can be opened to the urban landscape around, enabling the combination of art and performance events, within and outside of the building.  The main building structure is based on a 4 m unidirectional grid made of Finnish wood, creating diverse spaces, individual galleries, atrium like spaces and informal exhibition spaces beyond the physical confines of the building. The exhibitions halls, horizontal and vertical, are ordered on a 20 m grid, allowing for flexible exhibitions and controlled divisions and uses of the space. The vertical exhibition hall has a structural height of 8 meters. This combination of different resolution grids, allows for a modular flexibility within the buildings boundaries and beyond, resulting in an active inclusion of design and architecture in the buildings programming, not just as a formal closed expression but as an open structure with endless possibilities. Landscaping and terminal: The landscape is stretched out like a carpet, a continuation of the harbor strip under the floating museum building, allowing for different activities while connecting the city to its harbor function to the south. The south end of the site is occupied by a new ferry terminal, wrapped under the landscape layer. Program spaces: The different program spaces are wrapped as a loop, gradually ranging from informal (multi-use space, shop and restaurant) to formal (exhibition and events) around the central atrium. The visitors centre is position just at the interface of these two zones, allowing access to all side function while controlling the access to the exhibition and event spaces.The roof of the building is partly occupied by offices and a formal restaurant.The main access and circulation of the building is spiraling around the vertical exhibition space/ atrium, allowing the visitor to experience the gradual transformation from an informal urban landscape beneath the building to the formal rigid spaces of the exhibition space. While travelling up into the building, people will see and experience the surrounding urban and art space from different angles, interweaving the two into a new whole.

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