The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition prompted unprecedented global interest; 1,715 anonymous entries were received, amounting to the largest-ever recorded response for an open architectural competition.
Although the circa €130m project has run into political opposition in Finland, the contest itself was a huge success. It was widely praised for presenting a new model for open competitions, combining the best of American, Finnish and European procurement approaches, establishing a powerful and memorable brand, and creating a much-admired online gallery of first stage design submissions.
The submissions gallery offered a compelling snapshot of the contemporary preoccupations of designers from 77 countries and it drew audiences from over 170 countries. Overall, the competition website achieved more than 4.3m page views.
The independent jury sought a design which could expand the idea of what a museum can be; creates a meaningful public and intellectual presence in Helsinki, offers civic space where both residents and visitors can gather and which supports the experience of art.
The winning firm, Moreau Kusunoki Architects, reflected:
‘The record number of participants in the competition and the high degree of international media interest towards the process demonstrate how people, despite the vicissitudes of life and economic difficulties, continue to find art and culture essential to life.’