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Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

Los Angeles, CA

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View From Across Harbor
View From Across Harbor
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Guggenheim Helsinki - Light Vessel

Given it’s scarcity in the winter months, light holds a special place in Finnish culture and lore. Daily life is deeply affected by the polarity of seasonal change. Conceived as a device for capturing and celebrating sunlight throughout the year, the Guggenheim Helsinki utilizes heliostat mirrors, reflective materials and solar panels to absorb and aim beams of light deep into the building’s core, creating a bright and dynamic public space that merges art, culture and technology year-round.

The museum’s program has been carefully arranged into a 5 story cube that is organized and energized by a dynamic central atrium. The airy and luminous space is constructed out of carefully stacked and woven birch timbers, expanding upon Finnish architecture’s tradition of fusing vernacular and contemporary techniques and utilizing one of Finland’s greatest natural resources. The wooden core is molded and massaged to puncture the outer envelope of the building, creating strategic openings that provide views and animate the striated building exterior. Museum visitors circulate vertically and horizontally between the rational gallery volumes and fluid geometries of the light-filled wooden atrium, constantly providing glimpses of the bright space beyond the woven timbers, and at times afforded opportunities to step out and view the space from perched overlooks.

The museum’s galleries are located on the upper levels of the building and act like large, flexible “trays” with solid floors and walls and suspended translucent glass ceilings that filter light from large clerestory levels above. Gallery walls can be rebuilt and rearranged as required to accommodate the growth of a permanent collection and provide curatorial flexibility for a wide range of temporary exhibitions, site specific installations and performance pieces.

The consolidated building massing allows a generous public plaza on the site, and opens direct views across the site between the harbor and the city. The inviting and diverse public plaza provides a range of textures, vegetation, gathering spaces, seating, viewing platforms and seasonal activities allow this new civic space to be enjoyed throughout the year. Fir trees and birch trees provide deciduous and evergreen vegetation. The conference hall and performance space are detached from the main building as a low pavilion situated within the plaza, further activating the site.

The roof level provides a sheltered outdoor sculpture garden and indoor greenhouse, allowing visitors to enjoy nature all year. From the roof level observation platform, situated as a bridge above the atrium core, visitors can look down to where they entered below, or out across the harbor to the city beyond. From this distinctive vantage point, one may reflect upon the multifaceted mission of the Guggenheim Helsinki; in which dialogues between culture and technology, nature and architecture, Finnish traditions and contemporary culture are brought to life through the conversations between visitors and artworks within a dynamic architectural setting.

 
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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Helsinki, FI
Additional Credits: Lorcan O'Herlihy, Nick Hopson, Jessica Colangelo, Charles Sharpless, Dana Lydon, Noelle White, Leo Yu

 
Public Plaza View In Winter
Public Plaza View In Winter
Perspective Section Through Public Atrium 'Light Vessel'
Perspective Section Through Public Atrium "Light Vessel"
Interior Lobby View
Interior Lobby View
Interior Gallery View
Interior Gallery View
Interior Atrium View Looking Up From Lobby
Interior Atrium View Looking Up From Lobby
Perspective Section
Perspective Section
Site Plan
Site Plan
View From Park
View From Park
Concept Sketch
Concept Sketch
Concept Diagram
Concept Diagram
Concept Diagram
Concept Diagram
Light Vessel Diagram
Light Vessel Diagram
Internal Circulation Diagram
Internal Circulation Diagram
Light Vessel Connections
Light Vessel Connections
Material Reuse Diagram
Material Reuse Diagram
Site Circulation Diagram
Site Circulation Diagram
Site Views Diagram
Site Views Diagram
Interior Atrium View Looking Down From Overlook
Interior Atrium View Looking Down From Overlook