Guggenheim Helsinki

LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland.

YEAR: 2014

CONSTRUCTION: 12,000 m2

TEAM: Pablo Pérez Palacios + Alfonso de la Concha Rojas, Miguel Vargas, Ricardo Lostau, Enrique Villegas


The new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki is part of the city’s revitalization strategy to redevelop the city’s water front into an active public space. The museum built on the old terminal facing the water becomes a space for recreation. The design of the building embodies a careful relation with the environment that ties the building to its culture and place. Following the idea that the water should become the central part of the building, we created a shelter around it, very much like an ice shanty. The water is brought into the museum by communicating vessels through holes on the ground.

The museum faces the city as much as the ocean and creates a strong visual interconnection between Helsinki’s downtown and water front. Its form became a link within the city rather that a divisive sculptural expression; its accessible hall makes the building a social monument rather than a sculptural one. The building is as much landscape as architecture, in an urban scale it acts as a point of reference inside the bay giving a whole new reading to the water front. In a more human scale the great hall fosters public awareness and engagement with the arts as it becomes an open museum with free access.

The generous open space at the street level provides the public a space for appreciating art as well as a place to gather around. The cafes and gift shops, with their access through the hall and in direct visual and physical contact with the water front, are destinations which offer opportunities to generate revenue for the institution while providing a general public amenity. Care was taken with the design of these components so that they seamlessly integrated into the overall character of the building.

The main lobby was conceived as an enclosed space, a module of articulation of the different components of the museum. The galleries run alongside and above the main hall; they remain open towards the main hall, the city and the ocean. So, the facades allow an alternation of views between the city, the water front and the interior of the museum. The main material used in the facade and the galleries' lattice is Finnish wood, a local and sustainable resource that offers a warm appearance outside and inside the building.