The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation's 11-member jury announced its shortlisted designs for Helsinki's proposed Guggenheim museum this morning. A veritable gaggle of Guggenheims – some 1,715 submissions – were whittled down to just six concepts from relatively lesser-known architecture firms, which were no doubt hoping to emulate the renown of the two iconic Guggenheim buildings in Bilbao and NYC, by Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright, respectively.
The six finalists are: AGPS Architecture, Asif Khan, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050, Moreau Kusunoki Architect, and SMAR Architecture Studio. However, owing to EU rules, the names of the competitors were not made known to the jury, and are rather boringly referred to by registration number.
Of the six, GH-76091181 and GH-121371443 are the standout concepts. The former comprises five independent towers, likened by its anonymous designers to a beacon. The towers feature a reinforced concrete core and prefabricated glue-laminated timber beams and panels. The concept also features some sustainable design, including a near-airtight envelope, heliostats (movable mirrors, to channel natural light inside), and demand-driven ventilation.
GH-121371443 has winner written all over it. This concept comprises six timber-clad galleries and a seventh administration and retail building – all of which is wrapped entirely in a glass skin. The glass is translucent at ground level and rises to become transparent toward its top, offering views of the Helsinki waterfront from within.
The competition has already garnered its fair share of controversy though. Some locals question the wisdom of Finnish tax money being used to fund the museum, and others cite the project as an example of the Americanization of Finnish culture. A rival competition called Next Helsinki was even set up to offer an alternative vision of what could be done with the choice waterfront location intended for the museum, currently inhabited by the Makasiini Terminal.
The six finalists have until March 2015 to further mature their concepts before a winner is announced in June of next year. The winner will be granted €100,000 (US$124,000) prize money, and the runners-up each get €55,000 ($68,000).
Head to the gallery to check out each of the proposals.