Paris firm Moreau Kusunoki Architectes wins the Guggenheim Helsinki competition. The Parisian practice will erect a creative cluster of linked pavilions and plazas overlooking the harbour in the heart of the Finnish capital.
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The museum skyline is composed by nine independent volumes, highlighted by a landmark tower. These fragmented art exhibition spaces allow strong integration with outdoor display and events, while the lighthouse offers a new perspective over the city.
All the buildings are cladded in locally sourced charred timber and glass. the darkened façades echoe the process of regeneration that occurs when forests burn and then grow back stronger.
The complex facing the South Harbor in the heart of Helsinki encourages people to flow within a new cultural core that is linked to the rest of the city. Indeed, the complex is served by a promenade and connected to the nearby Observatory Park by a new pedestrian footbridge.
Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki said “This project was a real challenge for a young practice like ours. We believe that architecture’s aim is to bring poetry to society and let people gather and get to know each others. We live so much into an immaterial digital world, maybe architecture’s mission is to bring back some basic goods”.
The jury found the deisgn “deeply respectful of the site and setting, creating a fragmented, non-hierarchical campus where art and society could meet and intermingle”.
The competition was organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and attracted 1.715 entries in just few months, but also some controversy. On a side the City fo Helsinki aimed to a “Bilbao effect” on the other side some critics opposed a “vanity project” led by an American cultural brand in the real core of the Finnish capital.
Moreau Kusunoki Architectes was founded in Paris by Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki in 2011. Kusunoki began her career in the studio of Shigeru Ban. Moreau worked in the studios of SANAA and Kengo Kuma. In 2008, Moreau and Kusunoki left Tokyo together, so that Moreau could open Kengo Kuma’s office in France.
The studio is currently developing Renzo Piano-designed District Court in Paris. Other ongoing projects are the House of Cultures and Memories in Cayenne, Guyana, and the Polytechnic School of Engineering in Bourget-du-Lac, Southern France.
Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation extended to Moreau Kusunoki the Guggenheim’s warmest congratulations “for having achieved the design goals of this competition with such elegance, sensitivity, and clarity”.
“I also want to express our admiration and gratitude to the other five finalists and to all of the architects who participated in this competition. Rarely has such a concentration of architectural intelligence been directed at a single design challenge” Commented Richard Armstrong.
Photos: Courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.