This new Guggenheim Museum – Imperceptible Figure suggests a rare typology of urban landmark in Helsinki. Delivering Finnish atmosphere of birch forest, timber poles in various height captures visitors’ eyes as a strongly compelling figure. This vertical figure has extremely thin proportion with shallow mass on the ground, which makes people easy to see through its surroundings such as city context, Tahititornin vuori Park and South Harbor and hard to perceive the edge of the building. While a landmark building is usually figure and context is background, Imperceptible Figure makes people hard to distinguish which item is the figure and which are part of background like “Sky and Water II” by M. C. Escher. Imperceptible Figure is melt into the background while keeping its strong visual impact.
Three main entrances; from the street, waterfront and market, directs visitors to the center of pole-embedded wooden space frame. Adjacent to the center are free-access programs – visitor service, retail, free exhibition, dining and cafe. Visitors have instant and open accessibility to the surrounding activities. Placed away from the center, exhibition spaces are captured and packed in rectilinear rigid mass. This contrast between programs and shapes stimulates visitors’ interest and provides spatial tension in this museum. The wooden construction has a lattice-type space frame made of Finnish birch, which holds the double skin layer that provides sealed cavity wall and roof. This makes stagnant air cushion which surrounds part of the building and minimizes heat loss during extreme winters. Clear glazing captures natural light and heat, providing a bright and warm atmosphere. Temperature difference in height within a single pole allows natural ventilation when necessary.
Moreover, vertical poles provide advanced meaning of sustainability more than physical sustainable characters. Embedded with LEDs, these poles receive weather data from Helsinki meteorological reports, and create a light show that changes with fluctuations in temperature, wind speed, and other events. A maximum height of 45 meters, pole-embedded roof covers 6160 square meter of space traversing the museum’s main atrium and becomes a huge living canvas reflecting real time data. Static wooden material with nature-driven information will provoke visitors’ inquiry about environment which can be recognized in different way in this project from their daily lives. Eventually, while Imperceptible Figure blurs into the surroundings during day time, it is expected to be perceived distinctly as man-made aurora at night time.