09 May 2015

“Kissing Helsinki” honorable mention in Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition

Our Group X’s members Antti Ahlava and Kivi Sotamaa have been awarded with an honorable mention in the international architecture competition for the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki. The competition has received 1,715 submissions from 77 countries. Their entry “Kissing Helsinki” has been the only submission from Finland that has been awarded.




The 21st century art museum embraces public participation. The emphasis in the production of art has earlier been in the relationships between the artist and the subject of art or more recently, between the artist and the art institution. Comparably, our underlying concept of art emphasizes the relationship between art and the public. In this perspective, a museum becomes a collaborative place for both the institution and the citizens.




The Guggenheim Helsinki museum is the programmatic and spatial result of urban life – the flows and focal points of people in the public space, through the museum area and connecting the museum to its surrounding areas. The city and the museum kiss each other. The URBAN SQUARE between the museum and the Market Hall is a gathering place for urban activities and events.

From there one enters the inner courtyard of the museum. This is THE VOID, the central space for diversity, where the public kisses the museum. It could be a home for performances, sculpture, experimental structures, events, such as the Restaurant Day – we keep the possibilities open. The place is constantly evolving through metamorphosis. From the void there is a connection to the waterfront. The urban square is connected to Laivasillankatu through the void and we actually propose channeling the pedestrian-cyclist connection of the street through the museum courtyard. This attracts people to enter the void. The flow continues also to the top of the building and to Tähtitorninmäki. From the viewpoint of public accessibility, the site becomes a terrain of public gathering and activities.



One enters the museum through the courtyard. This emphasizes the public character of the building. The entry hall opens to the sea. This is a high space equipped with staircases connected to each of the floors. The solution allows maximum flexibility in dividing the building into separate exhibitions. The exhibition spaces form loops.



The envelope creates a wood-clad shell and atmospheric interior space. The double skin forms an envelope, which is flexible in terms of use. The poche between the two surfaces is occupied by technical systems and structures, but also human space when possible.



The area and the building become THE hotspot of social sustainability on Helsinki – .Guggenheim reaches out and kisses the city. We suggest an enhanced participatory process between the stakeholders of the project and with the public, with simultaneously a great emphasis on corporate and civic responsibility. The building grows from its physical and cultural setting. The regionalism of local sustainability becomes realised through the local construction materials as well as locally-based services: the food at the museum restaurant and many of the items on sale in the museum shop are local products. Guggenheim Helsinki exeplifies consumer and attraction oriented models of property development.The infrastructure and spatial principles of the building allow flexibility of use and the optimized temporal use of spaces. The building is aerodynamic and utilizes earth in its massing and organization, increasing also the area of nature and gardens for the public. This is a vlife-span building, allowing flexibly changes in use in both indoor and outdoor areas. The enegry and heat use of each of the spaces of the building will be controlled separately, supporting use-centred thinking and personal responsibility. Simultaneously Guggenheim Helsinki builds brand for and markets sustainability.


The building consists of three parts: 1) Exterior: louvered free-form wood planks; 2) Rationally and economically dimensioned and sculpted surface and spatial volumes within; 3) Basement with service functions underground. Those parts of the building, which lay above the ground, can be prefabricated.

Energy production: The building will be connected to the Helsinki district heating, cooling and electricity networks. Additional energy will be generated onsite through photovoltaic and solar thermal panels installed on the roof. Roof mounted solar panels will generate heat and electricity. The PV array will be connected to the main distribution board and supplement the mains power supply. The solar thermal panels will be linked to the domestic hot water system and will provide the majority of the DHW demands, with top-up met by the district heating network.

Heating: The building will be connected to the district heating network via plate heat exchangers. Variable volume low temperature hot water (LTHW) pipework will circulate heat throughout the building to air handling unit heat coils, linear perimeter floor trench heaters and radiant panels. Trench heating will be installed along the perimeter of the building to offset façade fabric heat loss. Radiant heating through ceiling mounted panels will provide heating in all spaces apart from the areas, which are sensitive to potential water damage. Heating within the exhibition areas will be via an all air system. The heating circuit shall include weather and load compensation controls to vary the heat output of the system in line with the building energy demands, hence reducing energy. The building will be zoned so that individual rooms and spaces with similar thermal requirements can be controlled separately. Remote heat and remote cooling is supplemented by thermal heat and cooling; incoming air is taken through underground.

Structure types and U values: Exterior U= 0,17: steel structure. Basement U= 0,16: gravel, water insulatrion, thermal insulation, cast concrete. Roof U= 0,09. Copper cladding, laminated timber structure, thermal insulation, concrete elements. Air-tightness will be keep to a minimum through good design detailing and construction site management in order to achieve a Passivhaus standard infiltration of less than 0.6ach-1@50Pa, which is approximately equivalent to 1m3/hr.m2@50Pa. The utilization of passive means: Heat loss is reduced through an effiecient built form which minimises the area of the facade expopsed to the ambient conditions. The earth-sheltered basement levels are further protected from the elements. The building envelope will be highly insulated with U-values reaching Passivhaus levels. The air cavity between the two thermal glazing layers of the façade perform as temperature adjustment buffers: cooling in summertime and heating on wintertime. Thermal bridging shall be minimised though careful construction detailing and exposed thermal mass in the form of phase change material (PCM) panels at ceiling level within the core internal spaces will control thermal fluctuations and increase the benefit of night cooling strategies. Windows: two double glazed structural glass units with argon gas and thermal breaks Ug=0.8 g= 0.25-0,6 (dependent on orientation), VLT=0.65, U=1,0. Solar protection and control principle: A perforated laminate layer between glass panes will provide solar gain and glare control. The design of the perforated layer will be optimised to provide appropriate control for different façade orientations and adjacent space use types.

Lighting: The lighting of main spaces and transformability of lighting: Natural light, lightemitting diode (LED) lamps; control through daylight dimming sensors. Small spaces (i.e. toilets, cloakroom, storage spaces and technical spaces): compact fluorescent lamps 20 LENI; control through occupancy sensors.

Collection storage: linear fluorescent lamps, provided that a minimum colour rendering of 80 and appropri- ate colour appearance is selected to avoid damage of light-sensitive materials. All fluorescent lamps to be fitted with high frequency ballasts to re- duce the risk of health problems related to the flicker of fluorescent lighting. External lighting: lightemitting diode (LED) lamps; control through a time switch and daylight or occupancy sensors.

Light effectiveness and control: Automatic light control according to natural light with presence monitoring: Motion sensor and photo sensor controlled lighting throughout the entire building also contributes to the museum’s energy efficiency. Connection of lighting system to Building Management System (BMS): Average initial lighting efficacy: at least 55 luminaire lumens per circuit-watt for all internal spaces and 22 luminaire lumens per circuit-watt for display lighting, the average installed power density in the order of 8W/m2.

Ventilation: The incoming fresh air will be pre-heated in winter and pre-cooled in summer by drawing it through an underground thermal labyrinth. The labyrinth will be designed to optimise thermal contact with the ground surface and keep fan energy consumption to a minimum. Dedicated air handling units will serve each sector and individual zone control of the ventilation air supply rate will be enabled through demand controlled ventilation (DCV) using CO2 sensing. Total thermal enthalpy wheels with a heat recovery efficiency of at least 90% will transfer thermal energy from the extract air into the supply air and the air distribution system will be designed to achieve a specific fan power (SFP) of around 1.6W/l/S. Humidity control will be applied to the humidity sensitive library collection storage areas only to reduce energy intensive humidification requirements. Fresh air ventilation will primarily be provided via displacement ventilation. Air will be supplied at low level and allowed to rise through the thermal buoyancy effect before it is extracted at high level. Displacement ventilation results in higher air quality in the occupied zone as fresh air is supplied directly at occupant level, as well as reduced cooling energy requirements. The main duct and pipe routes will be located within the walls of the wooden core structure. Supply and extract ducts for the displacement system built into the floor and ceiling make-ups. The basic principle of machine rooms, sectors and routes: Machine rooms and pipe routes will be placed within the walls of the lift and stairwell shafts of the building. Each floor of the core is its own sector, as well as the space between the core and the exterior. The two basement floors are also own air conditioning sectors. Specific controls of air conditioning: Automatisized thermal control in each of the separated sectors. Electrical efficiency of air conditrioning (SFP): 5 kW/(m3/s).

Cooling: The use of free cooling will be maximised to reduce the need to take cooling from the district cooling network. The thermal labyrinth will provide precooling of the supply air during the hottest summer months and during appropriate times in the shoulder seasons fresh air will be supplied at ambient external conditions. Indirect evaporative cooling will be incorporated into the air handling units to provide further low energy cooling of the supply air. In general, cooling will be provided through the displacement ventilation system by supplying air at slightly reduced temperatures. This will meet the cooling demands within low load spaces will maintaining high thermal comfort standards. In high load areas, where additional cooling demands cannot be met through the supply air, supplementary cooling will be provided through the radiant panels. The radiant panels in high cooling load areas, such as high occupancy and high solar load spaces, will be four-pipe systems to allow both heating and cooling. Remote cooling accompanied with cooling by the thermal façade and by intake of air through pipes passing through ground and sea water during warm weather periods . Free cooling also utilized by cooling intake air before electrical cooling. Chilled pipework will be located within the ceiling voids. Invidual room temperature control will be provided through modulation of the supply air temperature and volume, as well as through variation of the chilled beam output. Large spaces shall be zoned, and individual zone control provided, to allow comfort conditions to be met throughout the space while reducing energy consumption.

The solutions of production and distribution of heat: The solar hot water panels on the roof will feed twin coil cylinders with supplementary heat provided by the district heating system when required. Dedicated domestic hot water pipes installed within the walls of the wooden core will distribute hot water from the cylinders to hot water outlets. Taps in the public areas will be low flow with automatic on/off control to minimise water use.

Credits: helsinkizürich + Ateljé Sotamaa + Arkitekturum

Design team: Antti Ahlava, Kivi Sotamaa, Fredrik Lindberg.
Assistants: Eero Alho, Simeon Brugger, Ashish Mohite, Olga Virtanen Ramos.

You can find more information on the competition here, and visit the exhibition Guggenheim Helsinki Now with the top submissions of the competition at Kunsthalle Helsinki (Nervanderinkatu 3) from April 25th to May 16th, 2015.