The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced the winner of its Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition at a press conference held today in Helsinki. Beating out 1,714 other submissions, Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architectes has won the Guggenheim Helsinki museum competition with a design that celebrates a return of domesticity to the art experience. The winning design, dubbed "Art in the City," breaks down the scale of the museum into a series of charred wood-clad, independent volumes that allow the city to permeate through it. In their entry, the architects described their proposal as "a sensitive and sympathetic approach to the context and nature of Helsinki," which was an aspect lauded by jury chair Mark Wigley, AIA, in his remarks at today's announcement. Moreau Kusunoki Architectes will receive a prize of €100,000 (about $112,732), and the five runners-up will each receive €55,000 (about $62,002).
"We are right on the edge of the water, which is the place of exchange between Finland and the world," Wigley said at the announcement. "Anything that's in this beautiful place is either coming in, or going out—or both. This competition was looking for an architecture that would come in and sit on the edge of the water. We looked for a project that could be welcomed into Helsinki, but also could welcome others. Interestingly this building has two sides, one facing Finland, one facing the rest of the world, and it must make the invitation to both.
"You can see that the idea of the museum is broken up into a series of pavilions, so again a kind of anti-monumental gesture. Primarily horizontal in its orientation, more porous, more open, anchored by a tower like in a smaller village, where there would be a lookout to keep an eye on the horizon, on the world. Inside [would be] a series of individual galleries, returning to the idea of art in a room. Exactly in the moment where you feel everything has become dispersed, a return to ... domesticity of experience. In between the pavilions is a landscape of movement and a confusion of what is public and what is private [that is] completely perforated and infiltrated by the city itself: A museum that tries to offer no resistance to the flow of people and activities."
"The international open competition process offered a unique challenge for practices around the world to partake in this exceptional project," architects Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki said in a joint statement. "Such events represent great hope for architects. We are delighted and honored to have been selected from among 1,715 entries. We are happy to share this victory with all the people we work with: our staff, our partners, and our clients. This great adventure brought us energy, joy, and dreams. The adventure now continues with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the people of Helsinki, and lovers of architecture and art.”
Kusunoki and Moreau founded their practice in 2011. Kusunoki, a graduate of Tokyo's Shibaura Institute of Technology, began her career with Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA. Moreau, educated at Paris' École Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville, started out working for SANAA and Kengo Kuma and Associates. The two paired up to start a Parisian office for Kengo Kuma, Hon. FAIA, in 2008.
"We've had this amazing conversation," Wigley continued. "[It's] the kind of conversation that should be held whenever an important building is done. In fact, it should be held even when a non-important building is done. I wish that in the United States every major project would be subjected to this kind of controversial debate and serious investigation of all the issues.
"It was interesting that the six that were chosen were very young offices. They were very international, almost all of them involving more than one country, and almost all of them involving strong participation of women. In many ways it was a representation of the future of architecture as a discipline: Global, diverse, complex. That was the first thing that we learned: Those architects, of the 1,715, who most understood this very complex idea of placing a museum here had a younger spirit. I think maybe the Guggenheim would like to be young again—and Helsinki would like to be young again as well."
"We think that we have, in a way, changed the history of patronage," Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, said in the opening remarks during the announcement. "Today, we have society participating."
"The city will strengthen its maritime identity with this new museum," Jussi Pajunen, the mayor of Helsinki said at the announcement.
An 11-person jury—selected by the Guggenheim Foundation, the state of Finland, the city of Helsinki, and the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA)—convened in November 2014 to select the six finalists. Led by Mark Wigley, AIA, professor of architecture at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, the jury also included Mikko Aho; director of city planning and architect for the Helsinki City Planning Department; Jeanne Gang, FAIA, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects; Juan Herreros, a professor, and founder of Estudio Herreros; Anssi Lassila, architect and founder of OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture; Erkki KM Leppävuori, a professor, and CEO of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; Rainer Mahlamäki, a professor, and founder of Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects; Helena Säteri; director general of the Ministry of the Environment, Finland; Nancy Spector, deputy director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder of Atelier Bow-Wow; and Ritva Viljanen, deputy Mayor of the City of Helsinki.
This breaking news story has been updated.