HELSINKI (Reuters) - An international jury revealed six shortlisted designs on Tuesday for a Guggenheim art museum in Helsinki, despite political uncertainty over its affordability.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which has hugely popular and architecturally innovative museums in New York, Bilbao and Venice, as well as one under construction in Abu Dhabi, announced in 2012 it wanted to add Helsinki to its stable of contemporary art spaces. The museum would focus on Nordic and international architecture and design.
The selected designs include a rectangular structure wrapped in textured glass, and a lighthouse overlooking a group of low pavilion-like buildings. Another makes use of the site's harbor terminal by adding a long hall on stilts hovering above it.
Wood as a building material features prominently, in a nod to the Nordic country's vast forests. One design consists of 31 timber-paneled rooms, each with its own micro-climate, and another is based on a cluster of silo-like wood structures.
Departing from the traditional static museum concept, another entry proposes an interior street and public space.
The shortlisted candidates, picked anonymously by the jury out of 1,715 entries from 77 countries, are based in Britain, Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany, Australia and the United States.
"The competition attracted more architectural intelligence than almost anyplace else in the world," Richard Armstrong, the director of the foundation, told a news conference.
The candidates will now expand on their designs and produce their master-plan models. The winner will be announced in June, after which the city of Helsinki will reconsider whether to proceed with construction.
The city board in 2012 narrowly voted down the plan for a project estimated to cost 140 million euros ($174 million), due to worries that much of the expense would be borne by taxpayers.
However, earlier this year the city board allowed the foundation to proceed with the architectural competition, which proponents of the project hope will bolster popular enthusiasm.
Supporters argue that the museum will be a boost for Finland. They cite the example of the Bilbao Guggenheim, which has helped to transform the Spanish city into a popular art and architectural destination.
(Reporting by Anna Ercanbrack; Editing by Jussi Rosendahl, Michael Roddy and Mark Trevelyan)