Nearly a year after the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation officially launched the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architectes was announced as the grand-prize winners today with their proposal, titled "Art in the City". In recent years, the Foundation's plans for building a new Guggenheim in Helsinki prompted lively debate among local residents and architects worldwide alike, including the launch of the Next Helsinki counter-competition that asked the burning question: Is another Guggenheim Museum what Helsinki needs?
But just like the whirlwind of discussions surrounding the project, the competition itself is just as memorable: Stage One reeled in an astounding 1,715 anonymously submitted entries from 77 countries last fall, attracting a variety of designs ranging from the safer-yet-promising to the bolder-but-downright wacky. By the start of Stage Two this past January, only six teams -- who remained unmatched to their entries -- made the cut. Over the following months, each finalist team received additional briefing to develop and refine their proposals. The public also had the chance to engage through the Guggenheim Helsinki Now exhibition, presentations, and other activities.
Moreau Kusunoki Architectes was founded in 2011 by Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki, whose combined experiences include working within the renowned architecture firms of SANAA, Kengo Kuma, and Shigeru Ban.
Have a look at the winning entry below.
"The design of the Guggenheim Helsinki and its woven landscape are based upon a sensitive and sympathetic approach to the context and nature of Helsinki. The design encourages people to flow within a new cultural core that is linked to the rest of the city, through the port promenade and the pedestrian footbridge to the Observatory Park. This flexible access welcomes not only the visitors but also serves as a key cultural destination for the community.
The museum skyline is composed by independent volumes, highlighted by a landmark tower. These fragmented art exhibition spaces allow strong integration with outdoor display and events, while the lighthouse offers a new perspective over the city. This new museum concept together with the charred timber façade echoes the process of regeneration that occurs when forests burn and then grow back stronger."
Moreau Kusunoki Architectes was founded by husband-and-wife team Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki in Paris in 2011. Kusunoki earned her architecture degree from the Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo and began her professional career in the studio of Pritzker Prize laureate Shigeru Ban. Moreau studied at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris and worked in the studios of SANAA and Kengo Kuma. In 2008, Kusunoki and Moreau left Tokyo together and made the one-way trip to Europe so that Moreau could open Kengo Kuma's office in France.
Although Moreau Kusunoki Architectes has been around for only a few years, the firm has a growing roster of projects. Their notable works 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 Renzo Piano-designed Paris District Court at the Porte de Clichy.
In regards to the winning scheme, the Jury stated:
'The scheme proposed a collection of linked pavilions, each orientated to respect the city grid, and anchored by a lookout tower. The building would cohere around a covered street landscape that expanded and contracted according to its interaction with the discrete pavilions and is animated by different activities. The Jury found the design deeply respectful of the site and setting, creating a fragmented, non-hierarchical, horizontal campus of linked pavilions where art and society could meet and inter-mingle. The connections between the pavilions have been well considered to permit a continuous gallery experience, if required.'
Jury Statement (cont'd)
'The waterfront, park, and city each had a dialogue with the building yet the forms and materials were distinctive and contemporary, without being iconic. The drawings were imbued with a sense of community and animation that matched the ambitions of the brief to honour both the people of Finland, and the creation of the museum of the future.'
Jury Statement (cont'd)
'It was recognized that further work would be needed to resolve vertical circulation, use of the main terrace, and the construction of the roof, but these issues were considered to be a normal part of design development, and the Jury had confidence in the strength of the design concept. The concept is extremely flexible and is designed to embrace evolving urban, museum, and technological requirements.'
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.'
Jury chair Mark Wigley, professor and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, announced the winning decision of the competition’s 11-member international jury at a press conference held at the Palace, a Helsinki landmark of 20th-century modernism that overlooks South Harbor, the proposed site of the Guggenheim Helsinki.
'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.'
You can read Moreau Kusunoki's Concept Narrative here (ISSUU file).
As the winner of the competition, Moreau Kusunoki will receive a cash award of €100,000 (approximately US$109,000).
An award of €55,000 (approximately US$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)
- SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid and Western Australia; GH-5631681770)
Following the conclusion of the competition, fundraising efforts toward the development of the Guggenheim Helsinki will continue. During a press conference at the Palace, Ari Lahti, chairman of the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation, announced that more than one-third of the fundraising target has been pledged to date. According to a press statement issued by the Guggenheim, The Foundation has committed to raising from private sources the funds necessary for the suggested licensing fee of US$30 million, which would benefit the Guggenheim’s collection, programming and curatorial expertise, and also support the open exchange of exhibitions, programming, publications, and ideas with the Guggenheim’s global constellation of museums.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York will host a free public event on July 1 featuring Hiroko Kusunoki and Nicolas Moreau in celebration of their competition win. The event will include a presentation of the winning design by Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Architectural Record Editor-in-Chief Cathleen McGuigan.
Panelists will include: Nicolas Moreau, Hiroko Kusunoki, Ari Wiseman - Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Troy Conrad Therrien - Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
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