New museum architecture: A year of impressive cultural buildings
Binhai library in Tianjin: Stacked architectureA good book allows you to forget space and time. But the library in Tianjin in China doesn’t stop there: It embeds its literary collection in a surreal architectural environment, too. The cultural building allows glimpses of the shining white pearl in its interior before you even go in, through the characteristic “eye” in its glass façade.
Then, once inside, a huge sphere in the centre of the atrium draws visitors attention with its shimmering surface.
Zeitz MoCAA in Cape Town: A new platform for African artOnce upon a time, this building was the tallest grain silo in South Africa. Today, the building in Cape Town houses contemporary works by artists from all over South Africa. With 6,000 square metres of exhibition space, the Zeitz MoCAA is the largest cultural building on the African continent and is pushing South Africa’s lively art scene back into the international spotlight.
The design of the new museum architecture in the revamped harbour quarter is from the Heatherwick Studio – and thus is the brainchild of British star architect, Thomas Heatherwick.
Louvre Abu Dhabi: Honourable namesake of the famous museumIt looks like a steel UFO wants to land in front of the United Arab Emirates: The fact that the silver dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi “floats” over Saadiyat Island is a static masterpiece, as only four pillars carry the 7,500-tonne structure. When designing this voluminous yet apparently weightless museum, the French design icon, Jean Nouvel, made good use of some defining elements in Arabic architecture.
King Abdulaziz Center in Saudi Arabia: World culture in the desertRight in the middle of the desolate steppes in the eastern provincial region of Saudi Arabia, an iconic lighthouse is currently towering upwards on the horizon. As if mother nature had wished to create a sophisticated monument, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is made up of four polished “boulders” piled up in the centre of an elliptical, sculpted landscape. Supported by three above-ground elements, the largest monolith rises vertically, and forms the centre of the new cultural building, both visually and functionally.
The project was initiated by the Saudi Aramco Oil Company with the intention of creating a platform for cultural development in the kingdom. In 2007, the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta won the tender for the design. In May 2008, King Abdullah laid the foundation stone. The opening was meant to take place at the end of 2017 but has been delayed until next year.
Riba North: New museum design for historical architectureIn June 2017, the Royal Institute of British Architects opened the Riba North, its first architecture centre outside of London. The Broadway Malyan studio designed a modern facility on the Liverpool waterfront as a place where people can meet and gain inspiration. On the shores of Mann Island, the distinctive cultural building reflects Liverpool’s “architectural audacity”. And behind its dark glass façade, there is certainly enough evidence of this.
The exhibition areas are located in two asymmetrical building blocks, which visitors reach via the glass conservatory.
Whether in the desert, by the water, or in the middle of the city: Impressive cultural buildings and famous museums around the world exemplify the art of contemporary construction and design. In this way, new museum architecture does not only create the right setting for historical masterpieces but makes its own cultural contribution.
Which famous museums and cultural buildings especially impress you with their design? We would love to hear your comments.