FUTURE CAPE TOWN | 5 South African architecture firm entries for the Guggenheim Helsinki

‘the museum – a new gateway from the sea that links the city to the global’

We take a look at some of the proposals by South African architecture firms for the proposed Guggenheim museum in Helsinki.

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Research: Christine Dalle-Vedove

The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition was the first open, international architectural competition to be organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Following a detailed concept and development study by the Guggenheim Foundation, the City of Helsinki reserved a prominent waterfront site for the architectural competition of the proposed museum. The site is located in the Eteläsatama, or South Harbor, area, an urban space of great national and cultural significance, close to the historic city center and immediately visible to visitors arriving by sea.

Qualified architects—either individuals or teams—from anywhere in the world could enter the qualification process. Five criteria were used to evaluated their design: cityscape, architecture, usability, sustainability, and feasibility. Five South African firms, are listed on the website,  as having submitted a proposal for the new Guggenheim museum in Helsinki: TCNO architects, PEA, Martin Kruger Associates, Horst  Roschker and Hilton Judin.

Helsinki Collage


TCNO architects

Their concept is simple and consists of a long rectangular building sliced into a series of programmatic events. It is design as a core ten box lifted up to address a new public piazza. Their aim is to create a public space between these spaces and suspend “ gallery lanterns ” above.







Their design concept for the Helsinki Guggenheim competition is an unfolding landscape that extends the Tähtitorninvuoren Park to the sea and the Esplanadi Park. This is expressed in the form of a continuous urban ramp – integrating Helsinki’s public realm with the museum – a new gateway from the sea that links the city to the global. The urban ramp leads visitors into the innovative museum container with interactive and flexible spaces for art, the structure and skin analogous to a forest that controls light, climate and viewing apertures into and from the city

Helsinki_Martin Kruger



The genius loci echoes in the “building idea’ –symbolising the forests of Finland in the composition and form of column bundles as main structural element in foyer and galleries, carrying seemingly effortless the weight of skywards reaching square umbrella shaped roof structures. Space experiences are enhanced by window bands, through which illuminating light enters all round, and all year round, stimulating visitors senses, fulfilling architecture’s most noble aim, bringing art to life.




There are multiple public routes into the museum moving either from ferry terminals along a wooden public promenade deck under the floating glass galleries or directly from Market Square into the lobby on the quayside – all to engage with art. Their aim was to provide for an open public deck inserted between the museum base and a platform of glasshouses with expandable wooden exhibition boxes and skylights suspended above. From across the harbor the museum is recognizable as a seasonally reconfigured silhouette. The museum comes alive as a response to weather and evolving art programing in different ways that involve varying audiences throughout year – more compact, closed and intimate in cold winter months for the Helsinki community, opening up in the summer to expose tourists as well locals to sun and breezes.




Are museums the most extravagant form of architecture being build right now?

Architects get the chance to explore their creativity to the maximum and think outside the box. These projects shows how large the Spectrum can be in museum design. From a simple concept of a rectangular box from TCNA to a glasshouses boxes design by Hilton Judin to a circle holes roof by PEA, South Africa showed once more how creative and international they could be.


*No information was available either on the project or on the firm.


Read more:


  1. All content via the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition website
  2. Images:  http://designguggenheimhelsinki.org/stageonegallery/en