Architects behind Guggenheim Helsinki ‘disappointed’ at council’s vote to block the project

Guggenheim Helsinki was an extraordinary adventure despite the disappointing result of the vote from the City Council of Helsinki. The reflections we had in conceiving the 21st-century museum in Helsinki were thought-provoking and revelatory
– Moreau Kusunoki

Moreau Kusunoki, the architecture studio behind the failed attempt to bring the Guggenheim art museum to Helsinki, have expressed their “disappointment” at the council’s decision to block the project.

However, the philosophical founders of the Paris-based practice, Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki, told CLAD that the process of designing the project as an “extraordinary adventure” despite the result of the council’s vote, which was recorded as 53 to 32 against.

“The reflections we had in conceiving the 21st-century museum in Helsinki were thought-provoking and revelatory, such as the participatory and social dimensions of the museum, the studies on in-between spaces and flexible use, and the use of charred-wood cladding,” they said.

“This journey was also an opportunity to meet exceptional professionals, whose commitment to promoting art and architecture we deeply admire.

“We are confident that this project represents a stepping stone and the possibility of an exciting future for our firm and for the field of architecture.”

Speaking to the Helsinki Times in the wake of the council’s vote, the director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, Richard Armstrong, said the latest rejection means no further alternative funding options will be put forward.

The scrapping of the project follows mounting pressure from national and city politicians and sections of the Finnish architecture community who questioned the choice of site in the city's historic South Harbour. Earlier this month Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa told the Architects’ Journal the museum was a “ruthless business presented as a cultural project” and said it did not deserve public funding.

However, supporters of the scheme pointed to an assessment made by the City that the museum would have increased Helsinki tourism and annual spending by visitors by at least €16m (US$17m, £13.4m), also boosting employment.

The decision to cancel the scheme now due to funding disagreements, despite a competition being held in which 1,715 submissions were received from 77 countries, has also caused consternation. Rationalising the outcome, competition organiser Malcolm Reading said: “2016 has turned out to be a year of extraordinary events and turmoil and perhaps the final vote should be seen from this perspective.”

Moreau Kusunoki said they hoped their experience would “encourage new thoughts towards competitions, including openness and transparency, for an upcoming generation of architects.”

“The record number of participants in the competition and the high degree of international media interest towards the process demonstrate how people, despite the vicissitudes of life and economic difficulties, continue to find art and culture essential to life,” they said.

Moreau Kusunoki  Guggenheim Helsinki  Finland  architecture  design  art 
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FEATURE: Culture – Moreau Kusunoki

Moreau Kusunoki, the architecture studio behind the failed attempt to bring the Guggenheim art museum to Helsinki, have expressed their “disappointment” at the council’s decision to block the project. However, the philosophical founders of the Paris-based practice, Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki, told CLAD that the process of designing the project as an “extraordinary adventure” despite the result of the council’s vote, which was recorded as 53 to 32 against.
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Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki described the process of designing the project as an 'extraordinary adventure' / Moreau Kusunoki
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