Moreau Kusunoki win Guggenheim Helsinki competition with Japanese-style 'Lighthouse'

by Tom Anstey | 23 Jun 2015

French architecture firm Moreau Kusunoki have been named winners of the Guggenheim Helsinki competition.

The €126m (£100m, US$160.5m) museum - titled Lighthouse - would be built on the Helsinki waterfront overlooking South Harbor and formed of Japanese-style pavilions, with a striking lighthouse tower constructed from charred timber and glass.

The building's angular pavilions and flared roofs would be connected by an interior street and served by a harbour promenade, while the tower would be connected to the nearby Observatory Park via a pedestrian footbridge.

Moreau Kusunoki is a husband and wife team who only established their architecture practice in 2011. Their winning design was chosen anonymously from a shortlist of 1,715 architects, making it the largest architectural competition in history and the first to be organised by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation.

Judging panel member, Mark Wigley, architecture professor and dean emeritus at Columbia University, said: “The jury found the design deeply respectful of the site and setting. It would create a fragmented, non-hierarchical, horizontal campus of linked pavilions where art and society could meet and intermingle. The connections between the pavilions have been well considered, to permit a continuous gallery experience if required.

"The building will cohere around a covered street landscape that expands and contracts according to its interaction with the pavilions. It will be animated by different activities.

“The designers of this new museum have had to react to the conversations which were taking place about it during the design stages,” he continued. “Everyone was discussing the museum but they didn't know what they were talking about because the design wasn’t finalised. Now they can continue their amazing discussions with an actual design as the basis of that conversation.

“The reason this project has been loved, is the fact the designers have been able to respond to the live debate. It's not a building that's fixed or frozen, but a building waiting for the next level of conversation.”

Next steps for the museum are to gain approval for the project, after a 2012 vote narrowly rejected the development due to financial concerns. Guggenheim has waived the €30m (US$33.6m, £21.4m) fee normally needed to secure the rights to the Guggenheim name, but money must still be raised to create a foundation to support the running of the museum.

So far around €10m (US$11.2m, £7.1m) has been pledged by 20 private donors, according to museum officials. One other challenge is the rival ‘Anti-Guggenheim’ contest, which is still in the pipeline, with more than 200 entries seeking to find ways for the South Harbor area to be “transformed for the maximum benefit” of residents and visitors without a Guggenheim.

Helsinki’s mayor, Jussi Pajunen, has supported the plans “as an engine of economic development”, with an independent report conducted on behalf of the Guggenheim estimating that the new museum will generate €50m, (US$56m, £35.5m) a year, creating nearly 500 jobs in the area, as well as 800 construction jobs.

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French architecture firm Moreau Kusunoki have been named winners of the Guggenheim Helsinki competition. The €126m (£100m, US$160.5m) museum - titled Lighthouse - would be built on the Helsinki waterfront overlooking South Harbor and formed of Japanese-style pavilions, with a striking lighthouse tower constructed from charred timber and glass. The building's angular pavilions and flared roofs would be connected by an interior street and served by a harbour promenade, while
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The winning design was chosen from an anonymous shortlist of 1,715 architects
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