The Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Design Competition was launched in November 2015, with aim of selecting a team and concept design for the forthcoming Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art. The new €30 million museum building is a private and public collaboration; funded by the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation and the ABLV Charitable Foundation and is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.
Twenty-five international practices were asked to participate in the first stage of the competition. Seven leading international practices were shortlisted, and those were required to form creative partnerships with Latvian architects for the second stage of the competition.
The full teams were as follows:
- Adjaye Associates (UK) and AB3D
- Caruso St John Architects (UK) and Arhitektu birojs Jaunromāns un Ābele
- Henning Larsen Architects (Denmark) and MARK arhitekti
- Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects (Finland) and MADE arhitekti
- Neutelings Riedijk Architects (Netherlands) and Brigita Bula arhitekte
- Sauerbruch Hutton (Germany) and Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņš
- wHY (US), OUTOFBOX Architecture and ALPS
The jury members of the eminent competition jury were as follows:
- David Bickle, (chair), Director of Design, Exhibitions and FuturePlan, Victoria and Albert Museum
- Uldis Balodis, Architect, representing the Ministry of Culture
- Gianni Botsford, Director & Head of Design, Gianni Botsford Architects
- Jānis Dripe, Architect, representing the Ministry of Culture
- Reinier de Graaf, Partner, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), and Director of AMO (OMA’s think-tank)
- Luke Jerram, Visual Artist and Director of Luke Jerram Ltd
- Ieva Valtere, Executive Director, Pillar Management, SIA
- Elīna Vikmane, Board Member, Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation
The jury was advised by Malcolm Reading, Chairman, Malcolm Reading Consultants and Competition Director.
The jury met on June 6 and 7, 2016 to review the design submissions and interview each team.
The jury proceedings were arranged to commence with a 30-minute presentation by each team to the jury and a public audience, which summarised their design concept and the rationale behind their design scheme.
The jury then conducted a series of private interviews with each team, which comprised of a short summary presentation and a question and answer session, which allowed the jury to question each team about particular aspects of their designs.
Prior to the jury proceedings, the jury received a technical assessment of each scheme in a combined report carried out by a Peer Review Panel (see Appendix for panel composition). The panel conducted a summary analysis of each scheme from an architectural, heritage, construction, curatorial and preliminary cost analysis viewpoint related to the brief.
Jury Decision and Rationale
Adjaye Associates + AB3D’s proposal convinced the jury with a beautiful and poetic response to the challenge of the design brief.
The winning scheme is predicated on the team’s understanding of the material presence of north light in the region, and how this can be inspirational, both for the experience of art and also for artists’ practice. The tilting geometry of the roof is precisely designed to capture soft northern light and bring this into every gallery. The creative collaboration between Adjaye Associates, a leading international practice, and AB3D, an award-winning Latvian team, resulted in a proposal that, through its use of materials and form, is subtly informed by Latvian architecture.
The jury considered the museum’s distinctive silhouette with its animated roofscape to be compelling, giving the new museum real presence within the context of the surrounding commercial and residential developments of the forthcoming New Hanza City.
The winning design concept proposes the museum as an active social condenser, bringing people together through different interactions, from the formal to the serendipitous. The entry sequence was admired as a particular highlight and, overall, the building was felt to be welcoming and porous, creating many opportunities for public gathering and events.
The jury thanked all teams in absentia for the considerable thought and effort which was evident in all proposals. In particular, the jury acknowledged the work of Henning Larsen Architects and MARK arhitekti and Sauerbruch Hutton and Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņš.
Despite functional failings and a concern about limited flexibility, the design concept by Sauerbruch Hutton and Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņ was awarded an honourable mention for its modest beauty and anti-icon rationale.
A summary of the jury's key observations of each scheme (in order of interview) follows.
Sauerbruch Hutton (Germany) and Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņš (Honourable Mention)
The jury reserves a special mention for the design concept by Sauerbruch Hutton and Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņš. This entry was elegantly presented, describing a place for the production, as well as interpretation and exhibition, of contemporary art. The ambition to create a building that would be responsive to the environment and remove barriers to public access and was warmly endorsed by the jury. However, overall it was felt that the design strategy isolated the staff and user, compromising the client ambition of interaction and experimentation.
Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects (Finland) and MADE arhitekti
The jury recognised the design's strong image, in particularly the beauty of the translucent, white shingle facade, which allowed the influx of natural light during the day and the artificial illumination of the building at night. The design was functionally well-considered, with a sophisticated construction proposal and good use of timber throughout the design. The partnership between the international and Latvian teams was felt to be particularly strong, with clear evidence of collaborative design and engagement.
Caruso St John Architects (UK) and Arhitektu birojs Jaunromāns un Ābele
The design was considered to be functionally well-argued and informed by a genuine knowledge of artists’ needs. The layouts achieved a highly economic configuration of useable space. The gallery spaces were well-designed and convincing, and the team's extensive experience of designing museums and galleries was evident throughout the proposal. The garden was seen as a delightful addition (the jury praised its integration with the museum, in particular the dispersion of art throughout the park), but felt that the museum was ultimately isolated and insular.
Neutelings Riedijk Architects (Netherlands) and Brigita Bula arhitekte
The jury admired the team's proposal to begin the development of the museum immediately, by utilising the former Rail Station building, and planting a forest of birch trees across the site. The jury particularly appreciated the optic quality of the building's facade – perforated white concrete with a second filigree layer. It was felt this would create beautiful reflections. The jury commented on the strength of the collaboration between the international and local partners. It was felt ultimately that the interior layout was over-complicated and relied too much on temporary conditions to create flexibility of gallery space.
Henning Larsen Architects (Denmark) and MARK arhitekti
The jury praised the clean and simple design concept, and in particular the consideration the team had given to the immediate engagement with art within the museum. The raised landscaping of the park was considered interesting, and the connections from the museum to the park were particularly convincing. The jury praised the layout and functionality of the scheme, in particular the design of the galleries, which offered excellent, flexible conditions for displaying art. The jury commended the team for their clear and engaging presentation skills.
wHY (US), OUTOFBOX Architecture and ALPS
The design proposal had a strong concept, with an intriguing shape and dramatic and compelling imagery. The civic spaces were strong, and the team had demonstrated clear thinking about the multiple functions of the museum, not just the gallery spaces. The porous quality of the museum was admired, with a clear attempt made to reach out to the surrounding neighbourhood through multiple entrances. The jury enjoyed the presentation style and technique – this level of engagement and enthusiasm was felt to be a particular strength.
The jury's recommendation will be passed to the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation's Board for ratification. The winner of the competition will be publicly announced on Thursday 16th June.
All jury members are thanked for their time and effort in coming to this decision.
This statement approved by the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Design Competition jury chair June 2016.