Perspectives on the Guggenheim’s Museums: Predicting Helsinki

The recent proposal for a Guggenheim in Helsinki inspired the Tocci team to reflect on the organization’s museums.

From Michael Carroll:

I don’t think Helsinki has a design yet, but I would imagine it’s going to be something less exuberant and more “Dutch” given the culture of the country. Let’s say Bilbao captures the flash and bravado of Spain, and the Abu Dhabi iteration, whatever the design is metaphorically speaking, captures the excesses of oil wealth purely on it looking expensive (it looks excessive, even by Dubai standards). I would think Snohetta would be a prime contender for the building since they’ve done a lot of work on that scale and it’s right in their backyard.

Specifically I’m thinking of the Oslo Opera House in Norway as a point of comparison. There is a whole confluence of style in historic interpretation within a building that’s geared mainly toward solving large programmatic challenges, which is in my opinion not so different from a museum. For example, the use of wood on the interior, true of most architects brought up in Scandinavia, draws a clear line from Aalto. But reaching out to the mainland, their fascination with buildings as “5-sided” draws on Corbusier’s adamancy about reclaiming some of the outdoor ground space you’re occupying by making the roof accessible. In both cases, their interpretation and inventiveness make them an excellent choice for the Guggenheim Foundation.

Bilbao and Abu Dhabi are designs give to excess, but much of the culture of Scandinavia is, and has always been about doing more with less. I think a firm like Snohetta would be an incredibly potent juxtaposition for the portfolio of galleries the Guggenheim foundation has, but I can’t quite decide if it would fall in line with the obsessive perfectionism of Frank Lloyd Wright, or if it would be another animal altogether. I’m hoping for the latter.

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