HELSINKI — Moreau Kusunoki Architectes of Paris are the winners of the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition, the museum announced at a press conference Tuesday morning. After a year-long process, they were chosen by an 11-member jury from a shortlist of six firms.
“One of our key ideas from the beginning was to make a transparent museum, to create porosity,” founding principal Nicolas Moreau told Architizer, and so a key feature of the winning museum design, titled “Art in the City,” is that it comprises a series of nine distinct pavilions clad in charred timber and glass, sited in relation to a central lookout tower. “The pavilion is a method that allows the free-flow from outside to inside,” Moreau continued. “The fact that the museum needs specific climate control for the art means that usually museums are quite opaque. The pavilions create a promenade of spaces in between these controlled environments.”
This physical transparency follows a trend in more accessible museum architecture, seen recently in the overhauls of institutions like SFMOMA, MoMA, and Miami’s Perez Museum. “Instead of making a big, opaque museum volume where we forget that we’re in Helsinki, we wanted to link the museum experience to the site experience,” founding principal Hiroko Kusunoki told us. “This is an exceptional site, with views of the sea and city to remind you where you are.”
Moreau and Kusunoki founded their firm in Paris in 2011, Moreau having previously worked in the offices of SANAA and Kengo Kuma, and Kusunoki in the office of Shigeru Ban. Their earlier cultural projects include the House of Cultures and Memories in Cayenne, the Polytechnic School of Engineering in Bourget-du-Lac, and the plaza for Renzo Piano’s Paris District Court at the Porte de Clichy.
Seated at center: Moreau, second from left, and Kusunoki.
In addition to the winning design, the press conference also matched the five other finalists with their proposals, information that had until now been withheld. The discretion followed the tradition of anonymous Finnish architectural competitions, which in the past have benefited young Finnish architects, including Alvar Aalto.
“It was very interesting that the six that were chosen in this very enormous competition were mainly young practices, almost all of them involving more than one country and a strong participation of women,” jury chair and dean emeritus of Columbia University's GSAPP program Mark Wigley said during the press conference. “In many ways, it was a representation of the future of architecture as a discipline: global, diverse, complex.”
The Helsinki and Finnish government will now enter negotiations with the Guggenheim over the economic and functional aspects of the project, a divisive topic in Finland for its $147-million price tag. The final say goes to the 85-member city council.