GABBRO, PROPOSAL FOR GUGGENHEIM HELSINKI
International competition, Pedro Duarte Bento 2014
“The art museum is one of the places that give us the highest idea of man.”
André Malraux, french novelist, theorist (1901-1976)
– What if instead of a “sculptural” (quoting architects), an “iconic” (quoting politicians), an “articulated” (quoting critics) building, as in the brand’s historical tradition (New York, Bilbao, Dubai), the new Guggenheim Museum would be an orthogonal, sober, pure volume?
– As a clear antithesis of its predecessors, would it prove to be somehow “sculptural”, “iconic” and “articulated” too? What would be its effect in the urban landscape; and, above all, in the collective perception?
– And would it work, functionally and programmatically? “Form follows Function,” says the modernist dictum attributed to Louis Sullivan. What, then, is the specific function of the museum? Will its function be a clue to the form; or is the dictum an outdated assumption?
These were the fundamental questions and starting-points that this proposal considered. In a prosaic way, one can say that the main function of a museum is to show Art. However, this is an oversimplification. André Malraux, in his ‘Musée Imaginaire’ (1947), understood the physical limitations of museums. As a result, he conceived the idea of a global museum, an abstract space that would contain all the art in the world, as a representation. Arguably, the Internet is now this place. What else is the function of a museum then? How does a museum encompass the developments of socio-politics, technology, demographics, and even the boundaries of Art and its display? What else can it offer besides the physical experience? To start with, education and preservation. It is also expected that a museum reaches local and global communities, that it fosters innovation, creativity, dialogue, and advancement; and in some cases, that it will provoke, rupture, revolutionize and break the status quo.