Art v. Architecture
One of the ongoing tropes leveled at the Guggenheim is the critique of the uneasy relationship between the Art it displays and its Architectural setting. This is a matter of debate of course. But perhaps more than any other institution worldwide, the Guggenheim has become synonymous with ambitious architecture. Because the architecture is so present, a show at a Guggenheim museum necessitates a dialog from the artists with the building. Our proposal embraces this pro-architectural agenda but also returns to the idea of the traditional gallery setting — galleries independent from the architecture which contain them. We provide both an ambitious architectural environment and the provision of high-quality, “neutral” galleries (the proverbial “white cube”) nested within to provide maximum flexibility to artists and curators to have absolute control of how the work is exhibited and perceived. A stroll through our galleries — arrayed around the central atrium — offers contrasting experiences of interiority and of richly divergent material palettes.
Helsinki lacks a serious collection of art — at least by the standards found in London, Paris, or New York. The construction of this museum will provide the opportunity to curate a diverse collection of high quality early 21st century art: all in the form of artist-designed fabrications for the building. We are using the Guggenheim Helsinki process as an opportunity to work collaboratively with artists in its making — as a project of cultural construction for the city of Helsinki rather than simply another destination for the international art world. In fact, our design will seek to form as many artist integrations as is feasible. Most of the detail in our renderings is to be considered a placeholder for something else an artist would design and we would integrate. As an example, we plan to work with Olafur Eliasson in the making of the platinum-glazed tile cladding of the galleries; or perhaps Jorge Pardo in the making of the lobby. Additional collaborations — to name a few — will include elevator installations, flooring installations, and light installations or all sorts to nurture ambient glows. We have also made spatial transcriptions from other Guggenheims: our atrium for instance is similarly sized and proportioned to the atrium in New York albeit very different in feel. This may make it easier for complex shows — like that of Maurizio Cattelan’s — to travel from New York. Similarly, we included a gallery which is nearly the same size and proportion of the great gallery in Bilbao.
The site for Guggenheim Helsinki can contribute critically to the making of a rich and vibrant South Harbor. We want to maintain the busy atmosphere of the harbor and reinforce it as a gateway into Helsinki. Our goal is to make as many connections to other active areas of the harbor — with the activity of the Guggenheim itself significantly animating the environment. To embrace the waterfront, we have nested our scheme into a sculpture park which extends southward from Market Square, through and around our proposal before continuing above the existing dockside parking and cargo, the future terminal reconstruction building, and shipping and receiving for the Guggenheim as a giant Green roof. This constructed ground serves as a catalytic ‘green blanket’ for the re-pedestrianization of the area and connects to points in the Tahititornin Vuori Park to the west. People filter across this raised ground down around the side of the Guggenheim along the waterfront and into the sculpture park.