Guggenheim Helsinki Competition


Proposal for the first open design and architecture competition organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.


The harbors’ functional character is reflected by its site position, being located at the convergence between two very distinctive components: the natural and the built. The block and the waterfront, together with the sea and the Tahtitornin Vuori Park, meet here.

Given the fact that Laivasillankatu street defines a line between the park and the block, and the sea and port, a fusion of the existing urban structure is sought after through the design proposal. Thus, a genuine space is especially created for pedestrians and destined to encourage a natural flow between the public realm incoming from the north, and the park.

Considering the human scale and enhancing pedestrian passage, the structure creates an interlaced layout of different seating and perspective levels located in relation to the sea and the environment. Therefore, the design brings into existence the fifth facade, a new urban surface that resembles a public square, encompassing the museum underneath. The multifunctional canvas of the roof solves specific problems in an elegant matter dissimulating the technical equipment and providing tactile experience for pedestrians in the same time.

The proposal is made in consideration to the site’s cultural and national significance. The discrete, yet iconic presence in the harbor is responding to the constraints, connecting the urban fabric to the natural environment.
In reaction to the onsite multiple access directions, the geometry of this public space creates a gravitational point, connecting all the pedestrian routes (from the Old Market, the port, the Laivasillankatu street and the park.). The facades create a dynamic image, unveiling a series of water oriented spaces that ensure a lively atmosphere during the day. By proposing a solution with full year access, the Guggenheim assumes a mutuality between itself and the public square, becoming a coherent space of interaction all year round.
The spatial organization reflects the relationship between the outside and the inside, the views connecting through the water flow. The interior public spaces (entrance, cafeteria, restaurant, shop etc…) are situated at ground level, while the museum unravels at the first floor, around the lobby, offering full range view for the visitors.

Having in mind Finland’s strong connection between architecture and nature, structurally and visually, the proposal makes use of the local materials’ availability. Therefore, the structure brings in use laminated arctic pine beams, wooden floor finishes and white finnish granite for the exterior.

Like any living organism, the harbor needs a strong heart. The museum aims at becoming that heart, pulsing energy and flow, by gathering people here and keeping a special dynamic alive.


authors:  Iulian Ungureanu, Radu Ursoiu, Gabriela Alexe, Alexandru Goia, Marius Neagoie, Razvan Popa.