Visions for The Next Helsinki

Celebrating the plurality of good ideas


The Next Helsinki is an international competition seeking for innovative ideas to the improvement of the cultural and public space of Helsinki. Launched as an alternative to the controversial Guggenheim Helsinki project, the Next Helsinki has called upon architects, urbanists, artists, and environmentalists to imagine how Helsinki and the South Harbor site allotted to the proposed museum can be transformed for the maximum benefit of the city’s residents and visitors.

Call for submissions was opened on September 9, 2014. Deadline for submissions was on March 2, 2015. Over 200 international entries were submitted to the Next Helsinki competition from 37 different countries on five continents.

The international jury, with chair Michael Sorkin, announced the competition results on April 20, 2015 in Helsinki. The jury was most excited about entries that suggested building on existing resources, and that were trying to capture emergent urban trends and tendencies in the city. A shortlist of eight favorites was selected, along with a wider selection of another 18 entries. Together, these highlighted entries reflect the variety and depth of the competition submissions.

All submissions have been published on the competition website (

“We encourage everyone to look at the site and create their own shortlist,” says Michael Sorkin, head of the international jury. “In this era of crowdsourcing, we think this model has a lot of relevance, other than retaliatory projects against bad art museums.”

Next Helsinki plans to mount exhibitions and create publications of the entries. Match-making with local actors and organizations is also in the planning.

The Next Helsinki is organized by Checkpoint Helsinki, Terreform and G.U.L.F. (Global Ultra Luxury Faction)


Original call


The international jury of the Next Helsinki competition announced the results on April 20, 2015 in Helsinki. Some notes from the chair of the jury, architect Michael Sorkin:

“We initiated this project out of a sense of both outrage and love. Outrage at the march of the homogenizing multi-national brand culture emblematized by the imperial Guggenheim franchise – the cultural equivalent of Starbucks – was what launched us.

The feeling of love came from our mutual affection for Helsinki, from a sense that it is a singular place, unique in setting, form, and culture. Understanding the impetus to acquire a Guggenheim as a pursuit of the vaunted Bilbao effect, the idea that some gaudy global repository would put a tired place on the map, we wondered why a city so indelibly fixed in the urban firmament, so superb, would ant to surrender such a fabulous site to some starchitect supermarket.

Our competition – not really a competition at all, rather a call for ideas, an anti-competition – sought to ask first if a massive foreign museum was the highest and best use for public resources, especially in an aspirationally egalitarian social democracy like Finland. We hoped people would respond to the question of how the arts might be most widely and productively encouraged. And, we also made clear that we were interested in ideas about how this amazingly charismatic site might be a point of dissemination – an irritant like the grain of sand that prompts the oyster to produce the pearl – for thinking about the future of Helsinki at many scales and in many conceptual registers.

We were amazed and delighted at the outpouring of interest and the great variety and depth of the 217 proposals we’ve received. These came from more than 40 countries and addressed the questions we begged with insight, imagination, and wit. We’re now looking – with your help – to disseminate them as widely as we can.”

The jury wanted to highlight a shortlist of eight entries that together reflect the variety and depth of the submissions. These entries are not to be viewed as refined and final proposals, but rather ideas. All submissions can be seen on this website.



(Entries are numbered in the order of submission.)

Jury Shortlist:


 >> See all competition entries








News & Media

Press photos:

Images of the jury shortlist entries:




Hufvudstadsbladet: “Alternativ till konstens Starbucks” by Tommy Pohjola. (21 Apr 2015)

Archinect: “The Next Helsinki shortlist demonstrates that a new Guggenheim isn’t the only option” by Justine Testado. (21 Apr 2015)

Arch Daily: “Competition Results: ‘The Next Helsinki’ Call for Ideas” by James Taylor-Foster. (21 Apr 2015)

Hämeen Sanomat: “Guggenheimin sijaan ehdotetaan kuoppaa ja hyvinvointivaltiomuseota”. (20 Apr 2015)

YLE: “Guggenheimille ehdotetaan vaihtoehtoja: kuoppa meressä tai hyvinvointivaltion museo – katso kuvat”. (20 Apr 2015) “Next Helsinki Adds Even More Plans to Guggenheim Site Debate” by Patrick Sisson. (20 Apr 2015)

CLAD: “Anti-Guggenheim Helsinki design competition attracts 200 alternative visions” by Jason Holland. (14 Apr 2015)

Architects Journal: “Guggenheim Helsinki rival contest nets more than 200 entries” by Merlin Fulcher. (13 Apr 2015)

Arch Daily: “Michael Sorkin’s ‘The Next Helsinki’ Competition Attracts Over 200 Entries”. (13 Apr 2015)

Building Design: “Guggenheim rival attracts 200 entries for competition where there will be no winner”. (13 Apr 2015)

YLE: “The Next Helsinki -kilpailu poiki yli 200 vaihtoehtoa Guggenheimille”. (3 Mar 2015)

Artribune: “L’altra Helsinki. Che non è solo Guggenheim”. (1 Mar 2015)

GlobalVoices: ”Architects in Finland Battle Over the Helsinki Guggenheim and the ’Next Helsinki’”. (11 Dec 2014)

CityLab: ”Here Are the Top 6 Designs for the Guggenheim Helsinki, and They’re All a Bad Idea”. (2 Dec 2014)

The Architects’ Journal: ”Rival contest slams Guggenheim Helsinki shortlist”. (2 Dec 2014) ”Six named on Helsinki Guggenheim shortlist”. (2 Dec 2014)

Il Giornale dell’ Architettura: “Guggenheim Helsinki” vs. “Next Helsinki”. (28 Nov 2014)

Architectural Record: “Commentary: Does Helsinki Need Two Competitions?” by Fred A. Bernstein. (9 Oct 2014)

YAHOO! Philippines: “Helsinki’s Guggenheim competition receives thousands of submissions while city’s architects have an alternative plan”. (18 Sept 2014)

de zeen magazine, “Controversial Helsinki Guggenheim competition attracts record number of entrants”, (17 Sept 2014)

Libreriamo, “Guggenheim a Helsinki, la protesta dei cittadini intellettuali”. (17 Sept 2014)

Le Monde, “A Helsinki, les anti-Guggenheim s’organisent“ by Emmannuelle Jardonnet. (16 Sept 2014), “Michael Sorkin launches anti-Guggenheim competition for Helsinki” by Elizabeth Hopkirk. (15 Sept 2014)

Artselectronic, “The Guggenheim: Action Plan on The Northern Edge of Europe”. (14 Sept 2014)

The Guardian, Architecture and Design Blog with Oliver Wainwright: “Helsinki v Guggenheim: the backlash against the global megabrand is on”. (11 Sept 2014)

Hyperallergic, “Counter-Competition Seeks Alternatives to Controversial Guggenheim Helsinki” by Mostafa Heddaya. (11 Sept 2014)

Archdaily, “Artists Seek Alternatives to Proposed Guggenheim Helsinki” by Karissa Rosenfield. (10 Sept 2014)

Helsingin Sanomat, Jaakko Lyytinen: ”Helsingin Guggenheimia vastustavat jo ulkomaisetkin aktivistit”. (10 Sept 2014)

Archinect News, “The Next Helsinki counter-competition launches in response to Guggenheim Helsinki controversy” by Justine Testado. (9 Sept 2014)

Architizer Exclusive by Matt Shaw: “Michael Sorkin Talks Alternative Guggenheim Competition”. (9 Sept 2014)

Bustler, “The Next Helsinki counter-competition launches in response to Guggenheim Helsinki controversy”. (9 Sept 2014)

Helsingin Sanomat, Silja Massa: ”Guggenheimin haastava suunnittelukilpailu hämmentää Helsingin valtuustossa”. (9 Sept 2014)

YLE Uutiset, Ville Vedenpää: “Guggenheim-tontille vaihtoehtoinen ideakilpailu – aloite USA:sta”. (9 Sept 2014)



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