top of page

The architecture of the Guggenheim for Helsinki

It is not the main reason to be against it but let us also comment on the architecture of the Guggenheim proposal for Helsinki. Mostly I am against the fact that it was a privately held competition which used free labor of thousands of architects with no promise of its realization, but that's a long story. Let us for now just comment on its #architecture (to inform on my legitimacy, I hold two Masters, one in Civil Engineering (Portugal) and another in Architecture (Germany), and by having designed and built museums, I feel very much entitled to comment, specially on its functional problems).

The building lacks iconic strength, meaning, I wouldn't recognize it as a museum from the outside. It resembles a convention center with a hotel, maybe a market or simply some fancy designed warehouses (it might have been inspired by the nearby industrial site, see above photos). It also lacks a narrative, I have not yet identified any story on using the spaces, there is no surprise and no conflict. I was also present at the final presentation by the winning architects and nothing of the sort was illustrated. These topics are of course arguable, architecture is no science, but lets go to function:

The French based winners and the mostly foreign influenced jury are underestimating the local climatic conditions: some roofs do not allow a natural and gradual fall of snow, the individual pavilions will need a much higher influx of heating, the planned glazed facades are not accounting ground frosting problems, the facade is dark (a poor choice for a city which needs light reflection due to its long dark winters), the set of separate buildings creates wind tunnels which are rather high in that area, etc. From all the over 1700 entries was this the best one could get? I doubt it.

Conclusion: it is a building which reflects the whole process, dubious, disappointing and dishonest.

Other articles:
bottom of page