The site lies adjacent to Tahititornin Vuori Park on land reclaimed from the sea gradually over the past two centuries. Prior to the 1815 master-plan for a new Helsinki the wilderness, which is now the park, made contact with the water’s edge.
The Guggenheim Helsinki is a bridge that reconnects the city’s most prominent natural environment, extending the park’s granite foundations up to the waters edge and crossing over the man made barriers of the road and the port traffic.
The arrangement of the museum is inspired by Finnish orbicular granite, a rare magmatic rock found within 25 kilometres of the site. This stone has a unique appearance with spheroidal structures which become the gallery spaces. The sinuous spaces between the galleries become social spaces, and a route through the building between park and waterfront.
The building is divided into 3 strata; each occupying a level of the new building. Ground level represents the raw materials of the art gallery, where deliveries and the public enter the building. As they move up to the first floor these raw materials are refined and shaped in the classrooms, workshops and spaces for the creation of art. The top level is for the exhibitions; the completed art works. The route through the building, between park and water, exposes each of these layers in turn.