Paris-based firm Moreau Kusunoki has been announced as the winner of the Guggenheim Helsinki competition, soon to be the third European outpost of its kind following on from Venice and Bilbao.
Revealed today by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in Helsinki, Finland, where the art museum will soon grace the city's waterfront, the announcement has been widely received by the international community with enthusiasm, and an ounce of controversy (mostly down to its hefty price tag: a cool $147 million).
Perhaps one of the most fraught over competitions of recent times, the jury - an eleven-member panel including Studio Gang's Jeanne Gang and Atlier Bow-Wow's Yoshiharu Tsukamoto - received over 1,715 entries from 77 countries. These where whittled down to six finalists and one champion in a radically open and entirely anonymous vetting process. In the running were more than a couple architecture heavyweights (London studio Asif Khan, AGPS Architecture, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 and SMAR Architecture, to name but a few) but the husband-and-wife firm established only four years ago beat them all to it.
Titled 'Art in the City', the winning design was chosen for its ability to invite visitors to engage with the museum and its contents through architecture. Nine low-lying columns and one lighthouse-like tower cluster closely, linked by a series of garden patios and an interior promenade. The tower itself is connected to the nearby Observatory Park via a pedestrian footbridge which, along with locally sourced materials, further integrate the imposing property to its surroundings.
'The waterfront, park, and nearby urban area all have a dialogue with the loose cluster of pavilions, with people and activities flowing between them,' comments jury chair Mark Wigley, professor and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University. 'The design is imbued with a sense of community and animation that matches the ambitions of the brief to honour both the people of Finland and the creation of a more responsive museum of the future.'