Guggenheim Museum Helsinki Competition

Guggenheim Museum Helsinki Competition

Rogers Partners’ competition design creates a year-round, 12+hour-a-day Great Hall for Helsinki: a big, open, multivalent, multipurpose free space. This space offers a pedestrian route between the ferry terminals south of the site and the city center to the north - an interior, cultural alternative to the long walk down Laivasillankatu. It is many things: a space to pass through, a destination for art and spectacle, and a gateway to the museum’s deeper programming. It integrates the museum into the urban flows of the South Harbour and the city beyond.

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The building consists of two contrasting “houses.” The Jäätalo (“Ice House”) accommodates the Great Hall. Conceived as a lantern for the Harbour, it creates an iconic image for the Guggenheim. The Jäätalo has two carefully calibrated skins: the western facade, which transmits and distributes light, and the eastern facade, which holds both light and weather on its surface. The Puutalo (“Wood House”) is a faceted, wood-clad volume with minimal openings, textured yet refined, containing the traditional gallery spaces of the museum on the upper level, and performance, education, and support spaces below. It is a quiet, climatically constant space. Between the two, the Art Yard—the interior courtyard —reveals two distinctly Finnish horizons: the ever-changing view of the water to the east, and the consistent, slim verticality of the Finnish woods to the west.

The intersection of the two volumes is the nexus of activity in the building, packed with a cafe, retail, and ticketing for the paid exhibitions. The restaurant hovers a story above—an overlook with views out to the Harbour and a spill-out terrace. The design embraces the climate, minimizing energy demands by focusing extreme climate control only where necessary (in the traditional gallery spaces), and employing large expanses of glass only in the Great Hall, where radiant heat is employed, and temperature and humidity are allowed far greater variation. The light-capturing façade of the Great Hall reduces the need for artificial lighting.