Design by Paris Firm Moreau Kusunoki Architectes Wins Historic International Competition for Proposed Guggenheim Helsinki Museum
Jury Selects Proposal Featuring Collection of Linked Pavilions from 1,715 Submissions to Unprecedented, Anonymous Competition
(HELSINKI, June 23, 2015)—The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, which began in June 2014 and generated a record-making 1,715 submissions from more than 77 countries, reached its conclusion today, as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced the winning concept: a design that invites visitors to engage with museum artwork and programs across a gathering of linked pavilions and plazas organized around an interior street. Clad in locally sourced charred timber and glass, the environmentally sensitive building would comprise nine low-lying volumes and one lighthouse-like tower, connected to the nearby Observatory Park by a new pedestrian footbridge and served by a promenade along Helsinki’s South Harbor. The Guggenheim revealed that the design, which was one of six finalists, was submitted by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a firm founded in Paris in 2011.
“I extend the Guggenheim’s warmest congratulations to Moreau Kusunoki for having achieved the design goals of this competition with such elegance, sensitivity, and clarity,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “I also want to express our admiration and gratitude to the other five finalists and to all of the architects who participated in this competition. Rarely has such a concentration of architectural intelligence been directed at a single design challenge. Nearly two thousand designers from around the world turned their thoughts to the future of Helsinki’s South Harbor and the possibilities of a museum for the twenty-first century. By making these competition entries available online, we also have contributed an unprecedented volume of design information that is now freely available for study and use. For this reason, while the design competition has now ended, we are confident that its contribution to architectural discourse and the public imagination has only just begun.”
Jury chair Mark Wigley, professor and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, announced the decision of the competition’s 11-member international jury at a press conference held at the Palace, a landmark of 20th-century modernism that overlooks the site of the proposed museum on Helsinki’s South Harbor.
“Moreau Kusunoki has titled its proposal ‘Art in the City,’ a name that sums up the qualities the jury admired in the design,” Wigley said. “The waterfront, park, and nearby urban area all have a dialogue with the loose cluster of pavilions, with people and activities flowing between them. The design is imbued with a sense of community and animation that matches the ambitions of the brief to honor both the people of Finland and the creation of a more responsive museum of the future.”
The jury determined “Art in the City” as the winning design by a majority vote. The official jury statement, available on the competition website, notes that, “Art in the City” would cohere around a covered street that can expand and contract according to its interaction with the discrete pavilions, which are “distinctive and contemporary” in their forms and materials. “The jury found the design deeply respectful of the site and setting, creating a fragmented, non-hierarchical campus of linked pavilions where art and society could meet and intermingle.”
In observance of European Union and Finnish procurement rules, all submissions to the open competition were kept strictly anonymous throughout the process. In December 2014, the Guggenheim named the architectural teams responsible for the six finalist designs, but the teams were not matched to their entries. Moreau Kusunoki was not identified to the jury as the author of the winning design until after the selection had been made.
In a joint statement, Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki said, “Thanks to the bold vision of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the City of Helsinki, the international open competition process offered a unique challenge for practices around the world to partake in this exceptional project. 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.”
Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki founded Moreau Kusunoki Architectes in Paris in 2011. Kusunoki, who earned her degree from the Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo, began her career in the studio of Shigeru Ban. Moreau, who trained at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, worked in the studios of SANAA and Kengo Kuma. In 2008, Moreau and Kusunoki left Tokyo together, so that Moreau could open Kengo Kuma’s office in France. Notable projects undertaken by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes include the Théâtre de Beauvaisis in Beauvais, the House of Cultures and Memories in Cayenne, the Polytechnic School of Engineering in Bourget-du-Lac, and the plaza for the Paris District Court (designed by Renzo Piano) at the Porte de Clichy.
As the winner of the competition, Moreau Kusunoki will receive a cash award of €100,000 (approximately USD 109,000). An award of €55,000 (approximately USD 60,000) will be given to each of the five finalist teams: AGPS Architecture Ltd. (Zurich and Los Angeles; GH-1128435973), whose design was named runner-up by the jury; Asif Khan Ltd. (London; GH-121371443); Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, Barcelona, and Sydney; GH-5059206475); Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart; GH-76091181); and SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid and Western Australia; GH-5631681770). GH registration numbers identify the previously anonymous projects on thecompetition website.
On July 1, 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York will host afree public event with Hiroko Kusunoki and Nicolas Moreau to celebrate their achievement. The event will include a presentation of the winning design from Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief, Architectural Record. Panelists will include Moreau, Kusunoki, Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
“I would like to express my thanks to the Guggenheim Foundation for organizing a design competition of unprecedented scale in Finland and internationally. I also wish to thank all the architects who took part in this competition for their interpretations of the possible futures for Helsinki’s South Harbor. I am glad for the lively discussion sparked by the design competition and extend my warmest congratulations to the winner. A Guggenheim Helsinki could have a significant, positive effect on Helsinki and Finland,” said Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen.
Ari Lahti, chairman of the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, announced at the Palace press conference that more than one-third of the fundraising target has been pledged to date for the development of a Guggenheim Helsinki. The Foundation has committed to raising from private sources the funds necessary for the suggested licensing fee of USD 30 million, which would enable, among other things, the benefits of the Guggenheim’s collection, programming and curatorial expertise, and open exchange of exhibitions, programming, publications, and ideas with the Guggenheim’s global constellation of museums. “We are firmly convinced that a Guggenheim Helsinki would be a wise investment in the development of Helsinki itself and Finland as a whole. It would strengthen our status as a design capital, convert a car park into a beautiful gathering place, provide cultural and intellectual opportunities for virtually all members of society, and generate very significant direct and indirect benefits in terms of tax revenue, new economic activity, and jobs. This extraordinary architectural design by Moreau Kusunoki shows us the way toward these goals, and the current financial milestone demonstrates commitment and support of this project that we hope will continue to grow. We are pleased with our fundraising efforts and look forward to raising all the funds needed in good time.”
To date, several organizations and private individuals have committed their pledge to support the Guggenheim Helsinki museum, including Etelä-Suomen Matkailu- ja Ravintolayrittäjät, Kämp Group, Lapland Hotels, Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, Nordic Choice Hotels & Arthur Buchardt, Restel, Royal Restaurants, Ravintolakolmio group, Scandic Hotels, SOK, and Chaim Katzman, Jari Ovaskainen, Rafaela Seppälä, and Kaj Forsblom.
The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition was funded entirely from private sources and organized by the Guggenheim in association with the City of Helsinki, the State of Finland, and the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA). Further consideration regarding the development of the proposed museum lies with the Finnish stakeholders at the local and national level. Potential funding models proposed by the Guggenheim in 2013 incorporate both public and private sources, including the non-profit Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation.
Since its launch in June 2014, the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition has been a catalyst for dialogue through a series of programs in Finland and in the United States, including more than two-dozen lectures, panels, workshops, and symposia.
Submission materials from all 1,715 competitors have been made publicly available through the competition website, designguggenheimhelsinki.org, which has received more than 4 million page views to date. More than 500 of the submissions may be accessed as open-data material at github.com/Guggenheim-Helsinki.
From April 25 to May 16, 2015, Guggenheim Helsinki Now, a free, immersive exhibition held at the Kunsthalle Helsinki, welcomed more than 6,000 visitors and presented ten public programs. More than 1,800 visitors to the exhibition shared their preference among the finalist designs. In this unofficial and informal poll conducted outside of the jury process, “Art in the City” was the most popular of the final designs among these visitors.
The competition jurors, in addition to Mark Wigley, were Mikko Aho, Director of City Planning and architect, City of Helsinki; Jeanne Gang, founder and principal, Studio Gang Architects; Juan Herreros, founder and principal, Estudio Herreros; Anssi Lassila, architect and founder, OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture; Erkki Leppävuori, president and CEO, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; Rainer Mahlamäki, professor and founder, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects; Helena Säteri, Director General, Ministry of the Environment, Finland; Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder, Atelier Bow-Wow; and Ritva Viljanen, deputy mayor, City of Helsinki.
The competition manager for the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition was Malcolm Reading Consultants (UK). The competition was made possible by the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, Swedish Cultural Foundation, Guggenheim Helsinkiin Association, Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation, and private individuals who wish to remain anonymous, with special thanks to the BMW Group for its support.
About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The Guggenheim network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (opened 1997) and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (currently in development). Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum, including with the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. More information about the foundation can be found atguggenheim.org.