Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki

22 March, 2013

Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki

Platform that connects audience with artists, reception center for tourists and cultural center for residents.

Greek version

Student: Maria Kanetsou
Supervisors:  Apostolos Kalfopoulos, George Vlachodimos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Architecture
Date: September 2012

This thesis seeks to overview the creation of a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki, Finland. This will be the sixth Guggenheim museum and the reason why Helsinki was selected is its key position. It serves as a bridge between the East and the West and it's regarded as one of the fastest growing urban areas in Europe. The museum's site needed to be not only aesthetically stunning, but also in a key location. Moreover, a highly visible and easily accessible space was necessary in order to attract tourists and residents. These criteria were met in Katajanokka, an area located along the waterfront of the South harbor, where Kanava terminal is located today. The cultural history of the region and the central location of the Southern Port, which is a passenger and a cargo port, are essential parts of the city's identity and emphasize the strong connection between architecture and natural environment.

The whole project was considered a building program as well as an urban design. The goal was to create a museum with a free access that would be fully integrated into the urban landscape. The site is adjacent to the city center and the primary objective is to design a free space that will become an operational part of the center. An attractive and easily accessible promenade is located along the shoreline and connects the museum with the existing functions, such as the market square, the market hall and the Kavopuisto Park, while enhancing the area's touristic character. The main axles that have defined the basic principles of the proposal are the following: the respect for the historic and cultural character of the place, the emergence of South Port as a welcome gateway, the adaptation and coverage of the contemporary urban needs of the region and the city as well, and the promotion and management of the unique natural features of the landscape.



Since the late 1800s, the embankments due to the heavy industry and the functions associated with the harbor have rapidly changed the shape of the shoreline. Additionally, the access to the seaside became prohibitive for the residents due to coastal fencing. Having as a target to revive the limits of the old shoreline dating since 1830, a design pattern of its earlier form is created through lines, paths and shapes. The land is reshaped within its old boundaries and the new building is placed outside these limits. Therefore, we have a 'non-plot' which is asked to accommodate the new museum.

The starting points of the design were the natural landscape and the climatic conditions. With regard to Finland's climate, where the winter is the longest season, lasting from November to March, and the fact that the Baltic Sea is covered by ice during these months, with average temperatures below freezing point around the clock, the key element of the natural landscape is ice. For this reason it was selected as the basic idea for the design proposal.

Morphologically, the museum could be described as a broken piece of ice whose individual fragments were detached from the primary mass and tend to sink. The classicist line of the buildings that surround the site is in contrast with the minimalistic form of the new building used for the formulation of the main masses and openings. A key element of the synthesis is the wooden deck which runs through the site, passing over parts of the building and allowing access without having to enter through the museum. Therefore, a basic pedestrian route of wooden deck is developed, through which areas are structured and positions for resting, viewing and photographing are created, with shelters and semi-open spaces for providing shade. All the important points, existing and proposed, are highlighted, while the wooden deck can also be connected with shops, cafés and restaurants. Particular attention was given to the access of people with mobility issues by creating ramps, landings and low walls. Furthermore, there is also the possibility of viewing part of the exhibits of the museum, which are placed on the artificial islands that act as outdoor exhibitions. Regarding the four pavilions, their purpose is to provide information about the museum and its history and about how the area was redesigned. Therefore, they serve as ideal points for a tour, in combination with the short time parking spaces for the accommodation of the visitors. The loading and unloading of the artworks is done through an underground road that is connected with the department of receipt and storage. There was no study for a parking space, because an underground parking area for up to 500 vehicles is envisaged a few meters from the main entrance and is considered adequate.



The organization of the museum is done on two intersecting axes. On the horizontal axis activities related to the leisure time of the visitors are sited, while on the vertical axis are placed activities that have to do with the operation of the museum. At the intersection of the two axes the main entrance is placed. In addition, there is a second entrance for the museum's employees that make access easier. Taking into account the importance of the South harbor as one of the busiest ports in Finland, a key concern was that the access to the museum would also be feasible by sea, by designing two piers. The museum is also divided into two main levels with a maximum height of 13 meters. The goal was that the city's silhouette would be respected and this could be achieved only through small-scale interventions that would allow unobstructed view towards the sea.

The museum, with a total surface of ​​12,000 square meters, will become a laboratory, a field of experimentation and a location for international exhibitions. Focused on artistic process, the foundation will serve as a platform that connects the audience with the artists. It will also provide a benchmark and a pole of attraction with amenities such as cafés, restaurants, shops, information points, multipurpose halls, laboratories and galleries able to accommodate large-scale exhibitions. All these in a leveled aesthetically whole, that will function as a reception center for tourists and as a cultural center for locals, while forming a highly important community aspect that provides sufficient space for public gatherings, meditation and socializing.




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