This research sits in the fields of museum architecture, climatic comfort and curatorial studies. Since the late 1970s, the levels of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (±2) and 50% (±5) relative humidity have been held as rigid specifications in the museum field. Defined for conservation purposes and tied to insurance value, these conditions have a notable role in the way art is perceived, yet they have been rarely questioned by institutional critique. The research question that this project addresses is: Can we transform the museum experience by incorporating the psychrometric chart in the curatorial toolbox?
The project 47 Rooms proposes a strategic shift for the Guggenheim’s identity: It focuses on interior climate rather than external appearance. It contains nine rooms of 20x20m, 27 of 6.5x6.5m, six of 10x10m, two of 120x4m and one of 32x120m, and three outdoor rooms. A multiplicity of chambers and climatic conditions will allow various museums to live together in the same building. The project is a machine to provide singular and ever-changing experiences by opening and closing doors to different climates. Each room’s final climatic conditions include a certain degree of negotiation between the institution and its visitors.
47 Rooms was one of the six finalist entries for the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, the largest competition in architecture’s history. It has been widely published and discussed and was part of the exhibition Guggenheim Helsinki Now at Kunsthalle Helsinki. A competition booklet and architect’s statement are also available.