Guggenheim Museum Helsinki

A forest as a museum and a museum as a forest are the weaving themes which reveal our obsession to distinguish between the natural and the artificial.

The project reflects on what a museum is and what a super culture could be: the forest rebalances the senses saturated by an abundance of images and sounds in the museum. The forest reveals the nature of the wider city and is grounded in the tradition of Scandinavian fairy tales.

The concept starting point was a reflection on what is a museum. A place where not enough people go nor feel the need to go. Such a place reminded us of a forest, not a park.The brief highlighted a match between the ground floor area of the site and the areas required for the museum. It felt like a perfect fit for a groundscraping project. The forest and the museum could become one but also keep their identities.

The idea was to bring the forest to the museum, the museum to the forest and the people to art. Site constraints became opportunities for the forest to visually link with the park across the road and also to provide cross connections on the site.

On a geographic scale, boreal forest is abundant around Helsinki. By bringing the forest into the heart of Helsinki we aim at revealing the grain of the greater city. The forest would reveal its nearby context by rising opposite Tahititornin vuori Park and gently bowing to the buildings overlooking the south harbour.

Also the museum modest height would contribute to settle the quay by layering vistas of Helsinki seen from the water. The forest will be a public space for all to enjoy as a forest and as an open air museum. It will help the city reclaim one of its prime places by the water.

The project matches the levels with the street and the quay from all accesses: the main entrance on Etelaranta, a second access from Laivasillankatu and finally an access from the quay.

A natural route will start from the entrance, north of the site, and unravel around the central ramp of the building, before leading the visitors up to the forest, where a cafe and the restaurant break the conventional adjacencies of a museum. This reveals the forest as a sureal and immersive experience for a museum. The one storey museum allows for extremely generous continuous spaces complimented by the infinite of the forest; like a room with no ceiling.

The required service route to the existing port terminal will run on the west side of the site, and provide a natural back street to the museum. Thanks to level differences the road will be bridged by the forest and be functional as well as non-intrusive from a urban point of view.

The museum sits low in order to minimise exposure to the elements. The forest provides a natural buffer which regulates the climate in and out of the museum. The generous glazing is mapped with a series of solar cells, filtering light into the building.

The main structure is made of cross laminated timber whose sections are bolted in order to offer future adaptability. The timber is sourced from sustainably managed forests and favour local craft for assembly.

The planted boreal forest requires very little water and is maintenance free. Rain water filtering through the active layer is collected and used as grey water.