Helsinki Guggenheim competition attracts record number of entrants

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Controversial Helsinki Guggenheim competition attracts record number of entrants

News: a competition to design a new Guggenheim Museum building in the Finnish capital has attracted more than 1,700 entries – more than any competition of its kind – but opponents to the scheme have launched a rival ideas contest.

Organisers of the Helsinki Guggenheim architecture competition say that they have received 1,715 submissions from graduate and qualified architects.

"The submissions represent the largest number of entries recorded for a competition of this kind, surpassing the 2002 competition for the Grand Egyptian Museum, which received 1,557 entries, and the largest architectural competition in Helsinki, for the Helsinki Central Library, which attracted 544 entries in 2012," said the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation.

The organisation is behind a string of art institutions around the world, including its New York home – a spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – and the Frank Gehry-designed museum in Bilbao, Spain, whose unusual architecture was credited with bringing significant new tourist income to the city leading to the popularisation of the phrase "the Bilbao effect".

It is now working with the City of Helsinki to create its next museum, which will be the first to be designed through an international open competition.

The first stage of the competition, which was open to graduate and qualified architects, closed last week. Designers from more than 77 countries sent in submissions, with the majority coming from the US, Italy, Finland, Britain, France and Japan.

Helsinki Guggenheim submissions
The 1,715 submissions

"When we launched the competition for the design of the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki, we hoped that it would inspire architects everywhere — emerging and established alike — to imagine what the museum of the 21st century could be and catalyse a global exchange of ideas about architecture and its traditions, urbanism, public buildings, and the future of cities," said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

An 11-strong jury – including Tokyo architect Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, founder of Atelier Bow-Wow and Chicago based architect Jeanne Gang – will draw up a shortlist of six designs from the submissions to continue to the second stage, which will be revealed on 2 December.

The winner will be announced in June 2015 and will be awarded a prize of €100,000, with the five runners-up each receiving €55,000.

The project is reported to have a budget of over $130 million, and involves the city paying the Guggenheim a licensing fee of a further $30 million.

It has already attracted controversy, with some critics describing it as a vanity project and objecting to the idea of a major American cultural brand occupying a prime site in Helsinki.

Architect and writer Michael Sorkin has now teamed up with Finnish architects and artists to launch a rival competition called The Next Helsinkiwhich is focused on generating other ideas for revitalising the city's South Harbour.

"The City of Helsinki is tempted to spend hundreds of millions of municipal euros in return for the benefits of the branding of the city with someone else's mark – is this really the best use for the site and tax money?" said the Next Helsinki team. "Help us seize this opportunity to highlight the city's singularity, and its residents' appetite for social, environmental and cultural justice."

The Next Helsinki competition is open for entries until 2 March 2015.

Main image courtesy of The Next Helsinki.