From 1,715 anonymous submissions, the jury has now selected six of their favourite designs for the Guggenheim Helsinki
To streamline the difficult job of a coming up with a shortlist, the judges worked in groups of five to review random groupings of submissions, studying and analysing the boards.
Submissions that did not fulfil the brief were the first to be side-lined. The main focus was on urban scale and overall organisational concept, connections to civic spaces, quality and character of light, the internal arrangement and programming of exhibition space, use and quality of materials, response to environmental conditions, and intrinsic flair, insight and charisma.
The theme that all six finalists had in common was the impulse to expand the idea of what a museum can be, how it can create a vital, meaningful public presence in Helsinki.
The first of the finalists for the competition included a grouping of pavilions creating a continuation of the city, which the judges described as a unique proposal, which blended well into the city fabric, and the use of natural daylight was praised.
The second finalist, which is actually two facilities, a museum made of two museums, was praised for its industrial vernacular structure with a compelling response to the Guggenheim principles.
The judges chose the third winner for the excellent integration of image and technology, and called the design simple but extraordinary. The design resembles a giant melting ice cube, owing to a translucent, textured glass skin.
For the fourth choice, the judges thought it responded well to the cityscape and the site, using materials from the existing buildings and how it blends with its surroundings. It reuses the laminated wood structure of the original building to rebuild a wooden volume that follows the exact geometry of the original building.
The fifth scheme, which proposes a new experience that transcends the traditional exhibition space, was thought to demonstrate a good understanding of how the city works and the proposal presented valuable research demonstrating a new direction for the museum internally and in relation to the urban fabric.
The last proposal, a cluster of slender timber towers with a sculptural form, was praised by the judges for its basic concept and elegant use of timber.
The judges stated: “Despite the sheer volume of proposals – a credit to the global architectural community and a great compliment to both Helsinki and the Guggenheim Foundation – the Jury remained focused. It recognised that the brief was complex and the site was extremely challenging in terms of technical demands and resolution of urban issues”
The Jury will decide on a winner in early summer 2015.
By Kerry Boettcher