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Adjaye wins contest for major new cultural centre in New Delhi

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Adjaye Associates has been selected ahead of Snøhetta and US stars Ennead Architects in the competition to design a contemporary art museum and cultural centre for dance and music in New Delhi

According to the judges in the Malcolm Reading Consultants-organised competition, the practice was the ’unanimous choice’ to design the new Kiran Nadar Museum of Art & Kiran Nadar Cultural Center (KNMACC).

The team’s as-yet-unseen ‘veil of triangles’ design, inspired by the ’sacred geometries of trees and mountains’, was praised for being both ‘elegant and iconic’ and ‘a visually and emotionally engaging building that was alive, dancing and timeless’.

The project will be Adjaye’s first cultural commission in India, although it previously drew up plans for a solar-powered building for silk weavers at Varanasi in the north of the country.

The other finalists were Thomas Phifer and Partners and Selldorf Architects, both from the USA. The competition was launched in the second half of 2018, when a long-list of 47 leading studios from 15 countries was invited to enter its contest’s first stage.

At stage two, a shortlist of five practices was asked to create concept designs, each receiving an honorarium of £25,000 plus travel expenses.

The new building in the National Capital Region will house a collection of Indian Modern and contemporary art and claims to have a vision ’focused on education, young people and the power of creativity’.


• [WINNER] Adjaye Associates (UK)

• Ennead Architects (USA)

• Selldorf Architects (USA)

• Snøhetta (Norway)

• Thomas Phifer and Partners (USA)

Adjaye Associates was collaborating on the project with local architect S Ghosh & Associates and engineers WSP; theatre and acoustic design consultancy Charcoalblue, lighting designers Studio Fractal and UK-based management support consultants Plan A.

David Adjaye said: ’This is our first cultural commission in India but, for me personally, it is the culmination of a much longer journey. I first came to India many years ago and immediately felt a profound connection with the life and energy.

This is our first cultural commission in India but is the culmination of a much longer journey

’The new building will celebrate and foster public interest in contemporary art, culture and creative partnerships, and enable [the museum] to continue their admirable pursuit of engaging younger audiences and future generations with one of the finest and most diverse collections of Indian Modern and contemporary art.’

He added: ’In a city that is in perpetual motion, we hope this new addition will offer a much-needed place for thinking, observing, reflecting and learning, granting a renewed sense of togetherness and belonging.’

01 kiran nadar

Kiran Nadar, the chair of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and Cultural Center

Source: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

Kiran Nadar, the chair of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and Cultural Center

Kiran Nadar, the chair of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and Cultural Center and a competition judge, described the proposed centre as a ’cultural powerhouse open to all’.

She said: ’[Adjaye’s] design incorporates a series of thresholds to art and performance. It creates a cinematic experience for visitors, who encounter artworks and artists as they move from the street through the atrium and up through the building to the lush rooftop garden.’

As well as Nadar, the jury included competition chair Malcolm Reading, Glenn D Lowry, the director of MoMA in New York and Chris Dercon, an art historian, curator and former director of the Tate Modern.

Reading said:The complex brief challenged teams in asking for a charismatic as well as an efficient building.

‘The winning proposal is distinctive and intriguing but also underpinned with organisational logic and clarity: the galleries are skilfully handled, and the programmatic functions are clearly sited and dispersed.’

A schedule for the scheme is not yet known.

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