Helsinki's South Harbor seen from the North, now the focus of two large-scale international architecture competitions. Image via nexthelsinki.org.
After the open competition to design the new Guggenheim Helsinki drew 1,715 proposals from 77 countries last year, it would seem the book was closed on what is possible for the 18,520-square-meter harborfront site in Eteläsatama. That thinking is exactly the reason that The Next Helsinki, a truly open competition seeking alternative ideas for the site unbounded by the requirements of a typical museum, put out an open call for a new concepts. The organization just released the jury's eight selections from the more than 200 entires the received earlier this year. While The Next Helsinki isn't part of any official call for plans, the entries and ideas still provide the counter-contest conversation starter the pivotal site deserves, according to organizer, architect and critic Michael Sorkin. "Guggenheim is offering constrained conversation, a cultural bauble, a Starbucks that offers the same global art and high prices," he says.
"We were concerned with the idea that Guggenheim was asking for tens of millions of euros for the site in Helsinki," Sorkin says. "In a small country that's one of the great welfare states on the planet, is this the highest and best use for money meant to encourage cultural practice?"
Sorkin and the panel of jurors, including Finnish architects and academics such as Juhani Pallasmaa, chose these eight entries as their favorites from a open call that drew entries from 42 countries. Sorkin was quick to note this isn't about reaching a single conclusion, but carrying on the discussion, especially in the lead up to the expected June announcement of the winning design from the pool of six finalists. In that spirit, Next Helsinki plans to mount an exhibition and put together a publication.
"We encourage everyone to look at the site and create their own shortlist," says Sorkin. "In this era of crowdsourcing, we think this model has a lot of relevance, other than retaliatory projects against bad art museums."
MUUSA by draftworks*architects (Christos Papastergiou and Christiana Ioannou)
Questioning the need for a franchise of the mega-museum, this plan would instead unite Helsinki's more than 80 museums into a mega-museum and coordinate idea-sharing, exhibits and festivals.
Landscaped Dock by Mathilde Lull and François Perrier
This plan focuses on restoring and revitalizing the city's industrial ports to take advantage of an unused resource.
Visions for Helsinki by Milja Hartikainen
Instead of focusing on a single area, this plan would cordon off areas of the south harbor and assign them to different regions across the city, creating a shared space for interaction and innovation.
Museum of the Welfare State by Marco Giovannone
This display of museums celebrating Finland's welfare policies and socialist government forms an anti-capitalist critique to the massive art institution.
Helsinki Polybrids by Thomas Kong and Susan Seah
Utilizing existing infrastructure, this proposal would turn the city's tram system into a connective series of visual art displays and event spaces.
Parc Art Helsinki by Pedro Carrasco Zanini Sánchez and Lucía Gutierrez Vazquez
This flexible proposal would utilize a series of permanent and pop-up structures to extend the reach of the museum model across the waterfront and city, opening the means of display and discussion to more artists and visitors.
Helsinki Iňač by Tomáš Boroš. Consultant: doc. Ing. Arch. Juraj Koban
A floating "blanket," or space for displays and events, would travel through Helsinki and the world, functioning as a mobile provocation for art.
Baltic Tale of Nothingness by Constantinos Marcou, Costas Nicolaou and supportive member Stavros Marcou
A fitting idea for a harborfront site, this floating boat concept would spread the benefits of a massive cultural institution across the Baltic Sea and beyond.
·Previous Guggenheim Helsinki coverage [Curbed]