An international competition seeks to find a design team for Helsinki’s New Museum of Architecture and Design


An international competition seeks to find a design team for Helsinki’s New Museum of Architecture and Design

The New Museum for Architecture and Design’s building will be in Helsinki’s South Harbor. (Sami Saastamoinen)

A forthcoming museum of art and architecture in Helsinki launched an international open competition to find a design team that will transform a vacant waterfront site into a cultural gathering space in the city’s South Harbor. Planned to open in 2030, the New Museum of Architecture and Design will focus on “democratizing the tools of design,” redefining Helsinki as a cultural destination.

“Finland has a rich and fascinating history of design that is deeply embedded in both our national identity and our living culture,” Kaarina Gould, CEO of The Foundation for the Finnish Museum of Architecture and Design, said. “The new museum of architecture and design will engage the public in activities and experiences that broaden the understanding of design as a tool that empowers people to participate actively as citizen designers.”

The competition is a joint venture between The Foundation for the Finnish Museum of Architecture and Design, Real Estate Company ADM, the City of Helsinki, and the Finnish Association of Architects. The museum will be the new home of the National Museum of Architecture and Design, an art institution formed through the January 2025 merger of the Design Museum Helsinki and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.

Those abreast with the Helsinki design and architecture scene may recall the waterfront site as that of the location earmarked for Guggenheim Helsinki. A plan first floated in 2011 sought to bring the heavyweight museum to Finland. The idea got as far as the design competition stage, through which Moreau Kusunoki Architectes was selected to design the new museum, however, the plan was later rejected Helsinki city council in December 2016.

seafront view of a vacant lot with Scandinavian houses in the backrgound
The new museum will host gathering events as well as house thousands of artifacts related to Finnish design and architecture. (Sami Saastamoinen)

The competition runs in two stages, with a jury of leading architects, cultural experts, and policymakers. For Stage 1, open from April 15, participants are called to present proposals at a conceptual level, with a deadline of August 29. Three to five proposals will continue onto Stage 2, where participants will develop the proposal and will receive $53,134 (50,000 euros) award each. In addition, other prizes and purchase options will be awarded at the end of the competition totaling $159,400 (150,000 euros). The results of the competition are expected to be announced in September 2025.

Once chosen, the design team will be tasked with designing the 108,177-square-foot (10,050 square meters) space, with roughly equal spaces for public and back-of-house uses. Located in central Helsinki, the waterfront site is a designated buffer zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Suomenlinna Sea Fortress and is close to landmarks the City’s Market Square, Orthodox and Lutheran Cathedrals, and the Esplanade Park.

“The open competition is a strong component of the tradition of architecture in Finland that opens the commission up to exciting concepts from designers at any stage in their career – from undiscovered talent to established names,” Mikko Aho, chair of the competition jury, said.

The New Museum of Architecture and Design will host a competition seminar on April 24. For more information and a complete competition brief visit the competition website.