Categoría: Concurso Publico Internacional

Ubicación: Helsinki

Año: 2014

Equipo: altiplano + worknot! + Shreyank Khemalapure

altiplano: Felipe Guerra y Jeronimo Rodan


If the intention to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki is to exhibit ‘artistic process… connect the public with artists and their practices’, this is perhaps the key to an exemplary XXI century museum. By creating this ‘laboratory for visual culture’ the program is no longer just the exhibition of art—mostly artistic objects—but, most importantly, the exposition of the production of art itself.

If the artist—producer—, the performance of production, and the supposed outcome are altogether exposed in the museum, in such a condition the museum is no longer just a mere showcase of perfectly curated artistic outcomes/objects, but a theater of cultural production.

One of the constant conditions of artistic productions today is the precarious and nomadic life of artists. That, along with widening up the idea of ‘artistic work’ during the XX and XXI century result into a blurred edge between artistic life, artistic production process, and artistic outcome—artwork—to an extent that we believe the three constantly collapse into one unsharp entity.

On the other hand, the growth of mega institutions, museums, galleries, etc during the XX century and until today with the aim to support artistic processes and art scenes in different countries, has created an extreme condition that simply feeds into the same—growing—precarious mode of artistic life.

Here, in designing for the “next” Guggenheim Museum of the world, seems to be a legible point to rethink this whole mechanism.

Design pedagogy, like the art pedagogy in the XIX and XX century, seems to be the intention of the museums of XXI century. Guggenheim Helsinki in many ways suggests a tipping point. First, in the current trends in design pedagogy, and more importantly second, in how art and artistic processes are perceived and also practiced today.


The plinth is treated as the stage for ‘performance of art production’. The performance field spreads across the site from within the box building. The entire site becomes a large field of performances/exposition spaces.

Performance takes place within and between various systems: grid, walls, living units, and frames. The space can range from a stage, a pavilion, a small room, or simply a large bare site for various activities. Regarding rapid changes happening in modes of artistic production, the museum here leaves the majority of its space undetermined, while enclosed, to accommodate all possible performance activities.

This—undetermined—open space can be the space of exposition, working, living, coexistence, or collectivity.


The project does not propose an espectacular shape, it is a box with a rigorous grid. The grid as a concept and a condition; condition of continuity, of unlimited spreading out, of repetition, and of non-difference.

On the other hand, within the unlimited inclusive system of the grid, there are walls: limitations. These walls create limits and enclosures. Walls that enclose fragments from past Guggenheims—Frames—and walls that enclose the whole plinth—containing all living/working units for artists. These thick inhabited walls house activities from retail shops, to offices, to cafes, security offices, and etc. While the copied Guggenheim buildings within the—inhabited—walls of their Frames sit on the continuous grid of the plinth, and the large number of small living/working enclose them all as an outer wall, all the space in between them is free. It craves for new events and activities. This space is territorialized according to arrangement of objects: furnitures and artworks. While the copied monumental old Guggenheim buildings are disconnected from their history and context, the open space is continuous and open for all activities to take place and all people to inhabit.


The structure is conceived as a succession of structural wooden frames. It is modulated in a 3×3 grid, just as all other aspects of the museum. The beams and columns are made up of two laminated wood boards, 20cm thick by 3m high. The structure works as a vierendeel beam, which is made up from the sum of laminated boards. The assembly of one beam with the other is achieved through a stainless steel joint. The columns are also made from laminated wood planks 20cm x 3m by 13.6m high. The planks are reinforced horizontally and these reinforcements serving as the structure for the artist’s units. The structural system allows rapid construction times and the materiality of the project keeps in mind a low budget.


The project uses repetition in all its scales. As the main compositional tool, the project uses a grid of 3m x 3m—which is also the size of the living units—that allows the later repetition of all its systems and components.

The project is an assemblage of various components, firstly, the big box, the living units, the frames, and the copied fragments of existing Guggenheim museum building. But in detail, it is an assemblage of the structural system, the units, the frames, the—framed—copied elements from preceding Guggenheims, the facade, the details, the plinth and the roof.

At the same time the assemblage creates a condition of ‘building within building’ or frames within frames.The main structure is constructed with laminated wooden columns with 3m space in between that define the length and the horizontal space of the buildings interior, these columns are arranged only along the longer sides of the building. A 3mx3m grid of wooden beams define the volume and hence its interiority. The roof is rather a humble row of gabled glass planes to allow natural light throughout the enclosed space. Further, the work/live artist/ creative/producer’s residence units are placed in the space within the columns. Within this gigantic volume four reinforced concrete square frames are arranged to further define the exhibition spaces in between them. Within these concrete frames the copied components from preceding Guggenheim are placed.


Architecture is reified by repeating itself. The project explores the notion of copy, repetition in a broad sense, and how repetition, in itself, is the production of the new, what Gilles Deleuze refers to as the production of a new difference, repetition but with difference. The project criticizes the myth of originality, the unethical view against copying and derivative works, and frees from the innovation imperative surrounding the practice. Arguing that there is a potential for the production of architecture, by transforming our mimetic desire into an operative and projective tool for architectural production.

The project then repeats specific elements from previous Guggenheim’s Museums, taking elements from Venice, New York, Bilbao and Las Vegas. With the use of the grid and limits, each Guggenheim is repeated within frames of 30x30m or 27x27m.

From Venice the project repeats and transforms the main building and the sculpture garden, in Helsinki the main galleries are transformed into office space and the sculpture garden is transformed into the main collection storage room, a controlled storage room visible to visitors from outside its glass walls. From New York the project repeats the ramped gallery and the atrium, limiting the round building with a frame of 30x3m offering space for exhibition. From Bilbao the project repeats the auditorium, to house the space for public events and programs. And from Las Vegas the project repeats the rotating walls, here becoming—decontextualized—an immediate exhibition space in the entrance frame.


The Frame provides 27x27m or 30x30m spaces enclosing the copied monumental Guggenheim buildings.These structures frame the decontextualized Guggenheim fragments; fragments from the past, quotes from history.

The frames themselves are inhabitable walls: they have a thickness of 3m and house program and activities of the museum.


In line with turning the museum into a theatre of cultural production, and rethinking the idea of the museum as a place for housing artistic acts and processes instead of storing artistic objects, the project proposes a series of small 3x3m living/ working units. The units are placed in the gap between structural elements of the outer wall of the plinth turning the wall into an inhabitable one, and enclosing the whole interiority of the box. These small duplex units offer space to artists—or similar cultural producers—to work and live there temporarily, and use both the units and the open space of the museum for their work and have the possibility to simply expose to the city. Artists—or similar cultural producers—would be free to use the units in the way they choose, they can be exposed to the public viewing or not, use them individually or collectively, and in average every 10 units share infrastructural units serving as toilets, baths, kitchens and elevators.

The living units shape the outer wall of the museum; the precarious artists’ units enclose the diverse activities inside the museum as a whole, turning the living units as the index of the museum at large.