Helsinki Guggenheim: Jay Merrick reports

  There was another kind of jury outside, holding a long horizontal banner in the sub-zero cement-grey morning light. It targets 2030 as the end-point of a first big surge in big waterside,   infrastructure and commercial developments. It’s a kind of dance … You’re not looking for the right scheme. It needs substantially increased cashflow, more shopping, and more than the 1.74 million tourists it currently attracts every year. There must be is a Scandinavian noir thriller in the offing.Jay Merrick is architecture critic of the Independent

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You must sign in to make a comment. The right scheme should be looking for you … We were not looking for a piece of spectacular jewellery on the waterfront … The site was really the main juror.’The audience filed out of the auditorium into the mezzanine, where several screens showed the shortlisted designs in an ambience tempered by a sub-Café del Mare soundtrack. It was clear from what he said that the jury was not looking for schemes that acknowledged the city’s existing architectural context in predictable ways. How ordinary Asif Khan and the cosmopolitan blend of Moreau Kusunoki seem in   comparison.All but one of the shortlisted practices is less than seven years old, which is the true wonder of a competition process whose decision was described by its organiser, Malcolm Reading, as ‘unanimous’. He, and Mark Wrigley, were on message in saying that it was a case of what Helsinki could bring to the Guggenheim, rather than the other way around.If you take beauty and democracy out of the equation, the bottom line of this design Odyssey [check spelling] is money. It read: Not With Our Money. The jury was not looking for schemes that acknowledged the city’s existing architectural context, says Jay Merrick
Protesters against the contest stood outside the Bio Rex cinema, designed in the 1930s by Viljo Revell. Helsinki is reinventing itself as an environmentally and educationally smart city, and as an international centre of design innovation.   Here are some of his comments: ‘We can’t be sure what we’re looking for.

Updated: 04.12.2014 — 16:52