_Elephant in the Room

The proposal for Guggenheim Helsinki – The Elephant in the Room – probes at the desire and delight of visitors to “piece together images retained in [their] minds, exerting effort in the act of seeing” — a process that artist, Anish Kapoor describes as creating a “mental sculpture.” 

The Elephant in the Room cannot be ignored. With its effervescing forms of wonder, the New Guggenheim Art Collection in Helsinki welcomes visitors to contemplate the museum as a place of discovery, imagination and spectacle. Internally, the Elephant is larger than life and seen as a progression of shifting voids that, in reference to Anish Kapoor’s piece “Memory”, ‘defy gravity’ while slipping and sliding through the volume of the museum as if they can’t be held down and ever so slightly push on the periphery of the gallery. The volumes bubble up and shift through the museum to encourage visitors to navigate their way around the void; searching for peeks and points of view that offer only glimpses back in as they shift up through the museum. 

Externally, the building is a shimmering monolith made of grey wood shingles on the façade; both a reference to Finland’s celebrated use of wood as well as a silvery skin that makes the building continuously change it’s appearance during different seasons, weather conditions and times of the day. As time passes, the wood weathers with a rich, grey patina – appearing more and more embedded in the landscape of the South Harbour. 

_Helsinki Guggenheim Museum Competition, 2014