The Helsinki Guggenheim is open to the world, to the city and the sea; it will become an active cultural hub, a dynamic platform for experimentation and innovation. The museum’s design is founded on the contrast between the movement and materiality of the ground floors stone and wooden surfaces and the abstract glazed, suspended exhibition space. The building conveys a sense of lightness and solidity; it is a both contemporary and timeless construction in the continuity of the Guggenheim tradition, yet unique. The fluid architecture creates a dynamic exterior and interior landscape connecting the city with the museum and the ground with the exhibition spaces in a seamless movement.
The horizontality of the building communicates the egalitarian quality of Nordic and Finnish culture, putting all visitors and artists on the same level indistinctively of origin, age or fame. Simultaneously bold and restrained the design of the Museum merges into the sensitive waterfront: it keeps open the vision towards the water. The building generates several public spaces: towards the city centre it creates a public square in relationship with the main entrance. A sculpture park is located on the south side, in continuity with the existing park.
The museum is designed to offer spectacular views of the city, the park and the sea, which become part of the museographic experience, places for contemplation that brings the city in. The project is based on a horizontal stratification of materials with a strong visual and symbolical value connected to the Finnish culture: The stone pavement of the ground floor creates continuity with the exterior quay and relates to the cobs and islands in the Finnish archipelago. The wooden undulating surface forming the roof of the ground floor and the terraces of the “Unique spaces”, relate to the tradition of innovation in wooden construction.
The glass surface of the exterior facades connects to the artistic glass design and to the water mirror. The pure white inner roof and walls of the exhibition hall evoke the whiteness of a paper sheet. The movement of the wooden surface creates three unique, unconventional, double height spaces, each oriented towards a specific direction: the city, the park and the sea. These terraced spaces can be used for artistic performances, events, conferences, exhibitions or contemplation. The gallery, on the upper floor, is an open, large and flexible space, which can be subdivided according to the needs of each exhibition’s specific scenography. The gallery is top lit by sheds oriented towards north and protected by micro perforated exterior shades, internal blinds make it possible to adjust the lighting conditions and also to completely darken the space.
In the centre of the building a large spiralling stairs connects the ground floor with the exhibition spaces on the upper floor. Reminiscent of the New York Guggenheim, this spiral is both a vertical connection and a space for exhibitions. Museums propose exceptional challenges to building services as the required conditions are within very limited boundaries and the occupation is highly fluctuating. They are in general high energy consumers, so systems need to be carefully chosen and dimensioned. The artwork is at the center of these considerations, however the visitor’s comfort will also be given a dominant place in the conceptualization.
The building relies on a highly performant envelope to reduce heat losses, good passive design making use of solar gains and thermal mass as well as highly efficient building services. Heat and cold can be supplied either using a water based heat pump in relation with the harbor water or a connection to the district heating and cooling system which – due to the higher utilization ratio – will increase in efficiency.
The large volume of the gallery space will fulfil the required climatic conditions for the artwork by a radiant floor and displacement ventilation with outlets in the floor and recovery in the sheds. This double system allows a maximum flexibility of this space which can either be subdivided or used as one and a reduction of air change rates, reducing the energy required for ventilation – a large step towards the LEED Gold energy target and an improvement of comfort due to lower air velocities. The system of energy distribution in the building is open for diverse supply solutions including the scenario mentioned before. The low heat and high cold temperature levels with low exergy allow for the installation of future, now unknown, technologies at the given moment.
Lighting is provided naturally through indirect light diffused through the shed openings as well as the double façade with diffusing screens that allow a view towards the outside. Additional occulting screens provide the possibility to darken the space completely relying on highly efficient artificial lighting. The foyer acts as a semi-conditioned buffer zone between program areas that will be placed within conditioned boxes. The wintergarden restaurant is exposed to the winter sun with the possibility to open the façade in summer. The project also contributes a sheltered outdoor area to take in the harbor on the East side. These two spaces are open to the public, allowing for a great integration in to the cityscape and adding social value to the harbor front.
The main structure will use recycled concrete to reduce grey energy impacts while the facades are mainly glass – a durable, long-living material that can be recycled at the end of the building’s lifespan without loss in value. Materials are to be transported when possible by ship to reduce the impact of traffic in the area. Timber, as a local material with low grey energy content, will be given a prominent spot as cladding material for the foyer as well as for internal division walls.
The structure consists of a main horizontal waffle slab relying on various posts and curves. The horizontal slab is made of a pre-stressed waffle type slab, with stiffeners defined on both directions as such : The waffle slab consist in a top and bottom slab 300mm thick with 90° intersecting prestressed beam connecting the top and bottom slab together. (bottom slab not shown above). The waffle slab may be tapered on the edges if a thin edge is architecturally requested. (from 1,50m on the center of the floor to 600mm on the edge (enough thickness for of the prestress cables anchoring heads). The main prestessed waffle slab is supported alternatively by columns in the center part and concrete shells at the 3 different geometrical cones giving access to the main waffle slab from the ground. Each of those cones consists of a 300 to 500 mm thick concrete shell that act like a general support for the structure. On the edges of the structure, the thick waffle slab will be cantilervering out from both the center columns and the supporting shells. The cantilever span will be maximum 17m, compatible with the 1,5m maximum structural thickness for the waffle slab.
The structure is conceived without any thermal joints. As the 120m by 60m first floor waffle structure is prestressed in both directions, there is no need for dividing the structure in serveral structural entities. Furthermore, as the prestress waffle slab will cantilever out from the various supports, the continuity of the structure enable better support as well as providing a good general stability. The distance between floor structures is inferior to 90m as the structure is cantilevering from the main supports. In consequence of those dimensions and the prestress of the main waffle slab, there is not any specific concern to be made about either thermal or nominal shrinkage of the concrete.
The general stability is provided by the portal effect of the general structure. The general horizontal forces of the structure are directly transmitted to the ground by the bracing shells stabilizing the project. The main horizontal thrust will be provided by the local wind, as the seismic activity in the area are negligeable. The structure supporting the roof consists in a lightweight steel and wood bi-directional structure supported on individual columns and walls resting on the waffle principle 1st floor structure.
EGA—Erik Giudice Architects is a multidisciplinary office based in Paris and Stockholm. Erik Giudice and his team have built up international recognition through winning competition entries and built projects in a wide range of scales and programs: from cultural centers, sport facilities to large urban projects. EGA has the capacity to undertake complex and large projects and works with a network of highly qualified specialists in all related fields. Regardless of scale or location the office always fuels all its energy into the project, combining passion, pragmatism and commitment.Architect: EGA – Erik Giudice Architects
Partner in Charge: Erik Giudice
Project Architect: Franck Bergerioux
Team: Marco Coletti, Juliette Blatter, Roza Patricia Pattah
Exhibition consultant: AP Culture, Béchir Souid
Sustainable and energy consultants: Transsolar, Arnaud Billard, Sabine Groeger
Structural Engineering: Ingerop, Pierre-Alexandre Cot
Photographer: Erik Giudice Architecture