Guggenheim Helsinki

Helsinki stands at a moment of great opportunity. 

From its origins as a Swedish port town, intended by Gustav I of Sweden to rival the Hanseatic city of Reval (now Tallinn), to the Russian-designed neoclassical grid city (in the manner of St. Petersburg), the continuing development of Helsinki’s South Harbour has the potential to catalyse the next phase of the city’s cultural and urban evolution. 

DSDHA's submission for the design of Helsinki's Guggenheim museum seeks to bring a new scale to the city skyline, challenge the notion of iconic monuments, respond to the seasonal conditions of Helsinki, and re-connect the urban grid with the picturesque landscape. Our proposal is driven by the following critical concepts:

Palaces and Courtyards 
Helsinki’s grid layout has led to a specific urban typology: ‘Palace’ buildings with internal courtyards. The site should build on this local character, utilising courtyards of different scales and characters to introduce light, nature and external spaces throughout the building. 

Not one thing, but many 
We have interpreted the courtyard typology and disrupted its form to a series of independent, specific buildings that are appropriate to their various functions. A singular, iconic monument that speaks of globalisation as a new imperialism would fail to engage with the unique cultural landscape of Finland, and is perhaps not what Helsinki requires. 

A Harbour Skyline 
The ‘palace’ building typology of Helsinki, which has been a result of the city’s grid layout, has led to a consistent skyline, broken only occasionally by the odd spire or the dome of Helsinki’s Cathedral. The gallery should contribute a new scale to the city, creating its own skyline on the South Harbour horizon. 

Enhancing the Landscape 
The site should re-unite the important Observatory Park with the waterfront, a connection that was lost with the development of the harbour. Located at the junction of city grid and picturesque landscape, the site should act as a transition between the two, creating the opportunity for new connections between existing local landmarks. 

Nordic Courtyard 
A Nordic courtyard is revealed where the grid of the city overlaps with the picturesque landscape. This overlap of grids mediates the two characteristics of the city and creates new connections between existing local landmarks. Manifesting itself as a courtyard of distinctly Nordic qualities. 

Seasonal Experience – Never the same building twice
The gallery should respond to the different seasonal conditions of Helsinki. Like the Nordic landscape, the site should continue to change in accordance with the different conditions. It should be necessary to use the build- ing differently in summer and winter. The external spaces will be a key component of this differing experience. 

A Festival of Light Everyday 
The building should both exploit the city’s seasonal daylight conditions as well as contribute to the character of Helsinki through its own lighting strategy. ‘Lux Helsinki’ should be able to happen everyday!
  1. Projects
  2. Projects
  3. Research
  4. Research