THE NEXT HELSINKI—AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE GUGGENHEIM HELSINKI
(December 1, 2014)
On December 2nd, the finalists for the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition will be announced. However different in detail, the starting point for the majority of the submissions is the creation of a landmark building with little or no connection to the local context and the urban fabric as a whole. The announcement of the finalists will re-kindle a heated debate among Finland’s citizenry about the probity of handing over a sizable amount of public money to a private museum.
The Next Helsinki is a competition for alternative ideas about how to more fully meet the city’s cultural, spatial, and sustainability needs. Since the call for submissions was issued in September, it has elevated the public debate, making room for voices with bold and thoughtful ideas.
The competition was designed to widen the circle of stakeholders far beyond the select group of brand-name designers who typically win such commissions. It calls upon architects, urbanists, artists, environmentalists, students, activists, poets, politicians, and all others who love cities 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.
The proposals submitted since the launch of The Next Helsinki are eloquent reminders that art and creative expression are more than showy attractions for cruise ship visitors–they can and should be a vital part of urban planning.
According to Michael Sorkin, architect and chair of the international jury for The Next Helsinki, “We’re looking for the most diverse and challenging answers to the question of how the arts can leverage of Helsinki’s self-expression as it contends with the pressures of growth, environment, and the homogenizing influences of global finance and its culture.”
Terike Haapoja, the chair person of Checkpoint Helsinki (one of the organizations producing the competition) commented that “The Next Helsinki invites proposals that extend beyond the framework of the white cube and into the reality of the city and its inhabitants.”
“Helsinki deserves much better than a Guggenheim Bilbao knock-off. There is a real opportunity here to make some urban history,” observed Andrew Ross, New York University urbanist and jury member. “This competition is for people who have the future in their bones.”
Referring to the waterfront location, another jury member, Juhani Pallasmaa, Finnish professor of architecture and Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, noted that “this unique building site in the historical center of Helsinki cries out for alternative ways of stimulating artistic culture.”
More information about the competition can be found at www.nexthelsinki.org Deadline for submissions is March 2nd, 2015 at noon Helsinki time (GMT+2). Results will be published in the Spring of 2015. The Next Helsinki is co-organized by Checkpoint Helsinki, Terreform, and Global Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.).