Merging soul and city: DDIR’s proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki

Jan 14 • Architects, Best of 2015, International, Museum • 2179 Views • No Comments on Merging soul and city: DDIR’s proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki

DDIR Architecture Studio’s ethereal proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki (“No Thing”) wasn’t a finalist, but depicts a connection between the museum and the public.

 

“When man walks in and does not feel the same intensity, then it simply means that man has missed having a dialogue with his surroundings, and No thing was arrived at with this concept and context in mind: that if it has to be a place, then it has to be a place of inclusion.”

 

By Farahdeen Khan….

 

Art could be defined as the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in. Indistinguishably, man is the highest form of art, and everything that he sees and touches is fashioned to buttress the artistic mould of man. All art springs from man, and it is what it is. This is what the museum in Helsinki offers, a space — a certain breathing room for the spirit. Entirely devoid of any direct or indirect references from edifices of its predecessors, yet absorbing the very transformation of what has surrounded it for eons in terms of essence and artistic interactivity.

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. The same can be said about architecture, since architecture begins where engineering ends and is not purely about constructing beautiful structures, but those that aid to the meaning of life. Those that become more like an extension of man. Art spaces, at their very core, propagate the idea to bringing people together. An endeavour wherein man seeks from the interior and provides the exterior its skin, a skin that comes full-circle by returning to the interior what it had been offered to begin with. In such a circumstance it is not the space, but man, who is in the flow. It is man who is the medium!

We see and we seek, and thus refining becomes intrinsic to man. At times, man also finds himself reaching a plateau, and this plateau is quite the transformation to the metamorphosis of the mind. Man searches for a way to explore meaning in No Thing, and No Thing in multiple ways can mean a lot more. In order to invent ourselves, we need to annihilate our very fibre and this is where we see, in some instances, that our soul melts into the mechanics of the city, just as the city melts into the soul and this merger is what gave birth to the kernel of No Thing.

Sustainability is another name for extreme simplicity. It warrants a higher level of spirituality and this can be evoked in a human being when one is obsessed with immateriality. That is why the entire premise of No Thing is based merely as a big cube of concrete. Translucence is the subtext where the visitor becomes the story. The idea was to make it utilitarian, sans pretentiousness. A space that is beckoning art but free of any extravagance. It was brought about with a dialogue with the city and the dialogue was so strong that what one witnesses here is the manifestation of knowledge and the wisdom summed up into a space of inspiration and awareness. When man walks in and does not feel the same intensity, then it simply means that man has missed having a dialogue with his surroundings, and No thing was arrived at with this concept and context in mind: that if it has to be a place, then it has to be a place of inclusion.

Museums, by and large, tend to be these alluring structures that attempt to narrate a tale but No Thing was devised to be as interactive as it could get. For example, a person walking through it could feel the snow falling via the mesh, the mesh that has aptly been christened the mesh of transformation. Snow has been treated as a living and breathing element of design. It is rather poetic, just like from cold comes warmth and yet this mesh was not something that stood out to make a point, but stands there in silence to engulf man in its interactive simplicity. Quite like enhancing understanding, or the very essence of one’s being, where the mind is free of any shackles and will begin to express itself most uninhibitedly.

The invisibles are what makes us who we are. The convergence of the elements of the earth define architecture and the iconography of humankind. Therefore, this space is not for art alone. It can talk to one man or all of mankind, since at the turn of the millennium every human soul has the right to be the artist, to be the creator.

One ought to keep in mind that intuition is not merely a feeling but a tool, and a work of meaningful architecture cannot stand on its own and would function most adequately under a cohesive bond of inter-dependency. Just as Michelangelo looked at a slab of marble and his fingers ached to turn it into a work of delicate art, the premise of No Thing is something that is not separate from the one who steps into it because all that you want to see is right before your eyes. To sum it up, the craftsmanship and the artistry in No Thing is an exquisite balance to the emptiness and void of the human mind. It has been designed in such a manner that possibly this would be the last great museum made and no greater museum after. To some this might sound as a myth, but beware it is myths that are proving right and shaping mankind.

Design team: Dominic Dube, Varsha V Kumar, Eder Sanchez Perez
Structure: Arup India
Text: Farahdeen Khan

Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition Finalists

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