A new Cultural Terrain for Finland
“The landscape has played – and continues to play – an important role in the process of constructing a national identity in Finland. In this process, certain areas and views, whether real or imaginary, are designated as vital symbols of the national culture. No matter whether we consider views or discourses, images, or areas of physically homogeneous features, one aspect that is common to all these landscape types is that they exist only as cultural environments that are dependent on human concepts, experiences, and appreciations.”
-Petri J Raivo
The design for the new Guggenheim Helsinki was inspired by the Finish landscape. Finland’s landscape areas are classified into three groups by degree of their physical homogeneity of ground, waters, vegetation, and artificial structures. More specifically, these landscapes can be categorized by Relief Types: broad, relatively steep- sided elevations, rift valley terrain within variable relief, undulating terrain with variable relief and relatively flat terrain with less pronounced relief.
Using the map of Finland and the variable landscape types, a new terrain was formulated into a three dimensional cultural terrain. Within these “landscape volumes” the variable relief types exist as a new format for exhibiting art and provides a new human experience and discourse for the Guggenheims collections.
Within this terrain, art can be viewed in varying perspectival conditions rather than in the sequential arrangement of discreet rooms. The visitor will be able to view multiple works spanning numerous terrains with a continuous connection to views of Helsinki from within the 25m high atrium space. This terrain also provides areas for experimental installations of varying scales and allows for both indoor and outdoor exhibitions on the waterfront promenade and a performance space at the museums entry as a rift valley terrain. The entry to the museum is located near the existing public transportation systems and pedestrian paths. The entry has been designed as a compressed space so that the visitor can experience the expansive main space as a broad, relatively steep sided landscape. The galleries and open exhibition space are a combination of variable undulating terrain and flat terrain. Within these galleries one experiences these connections via an undulating terrain (inclined ramp), allowing for the visitor to experience art with an endless variety of vantage points.
Aside from the inspiration of Finland’s landscape types, the design of the building also incorporates Finland’s abundant resources such as local timber and stone. The museums curtain wall responds to the programmatic elements that it encloses. Black out galleries are clad in wood and translucent glass is used when diffused light is desired. Clear glass is employed where views of the harbor or the park behind are desirable. The goal is a LEED Gold standard building for sustainability by maximizing energy, saving water, use of materials and careful solutions to shading and cooling.
This new cultural terrain for exhibition derived from the very nature of Finland’s landscape will provide for a new experiential paradigm for viewing art, be socially sustainable and will be a vital symbol for the nation’s culture and pride.