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Rival contest slams Guggenheim Helsinki shortlist

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Organisers of a rival competition have warned the six proposals shortlisted for the Guggenheim Helsinki possess ‘little or no connection’ to the city

The finalist designs – which include a scheme by emerging UK star Asif Khan – will merely sharpen criticism of the £100 million museum project, Next Helsinki coordinators claim.

Commenting on the anonymous schemes, the organisers said: ‘However different in detail, the starting point for the competition is the creation of a landmark building with little or no connection to the local context and the urban fabric as a whole.’

Their statement continued: ‘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.’

Open to architects, urbanists, students and ‘all others who love cities’, the rival Next Helsinki ideas competition seeks ‘bold and thoughtful’ alternatives to building a new Guggenheim Museum in the Finnish capital.

Its backers claim the contest – launched the day submissions to the Guggenheim Helsinki competition closed – will ‘widen the circle of stakeholders far beyond the select group of brand-name designers’ who typically win major commissions.

Jury members include architectural critic Michael Sorkin and New York University urbanist Andrew Ross.

Ross said: ‘Helsinki deserves much better than a Guggenheim Bilbao knock-off. There is a real opportunity here to make some urban history. This competition is for people who have the future in their bones.’

All six ‘deeply thoughtful’ concept schemes for the 12,000m² waterfront Guggenheim museum were revealed this morning (2 December).

Helsinki Guggenheim Shortlist

Shortlist in full

  • AGPS Architecture (Zurich, Switzerland and Los Angeles, United States of America)
  • Asif Khan (London, United Kingdom)
  • Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (New York, United States of America; Barcelona, Spain; and Sydney, Australia)
  • Haas Cook Zemmrich STUDIO2050 (Stuttgart, Germany)
  • Moreau Kusunoki Architect (Paris, France)
  • SMAR Architecture Studio (Madrid, Spain and Western Australia)

The designs have not been matched to the teams, nor will the jurors or public know which team is responsible for which concept until the winner has been selected in June 2015.

Malcolm Reading Consultants launched the contest for the museum in June after the city’s governing board earmarked a waterfront plot for the project - despite previous opposition to the scheme.

An earlier proposal for the museum was shelved by the same board in 2012 amid concerns over the project’s cost. A poll of city residents found 75 per cent opposed the scheme.

The Guggenheim Foundation subsequently put forward a second proposal featuring a ten per cent reduction in operating and administrative costs which was approved by the city board in January.

The City of Helsinki and the State of Finland will make a final decision on whether to proceed with the Guggenheim project once a winner has been revealed.

Entries to the Next Helsinki contest close on 2 March.

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