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David Adjaye wins contest to design new Latvian museum

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Adjaye Associates has seen off six major names, including Caruso St John and Henning Larsen, to win the contest to design the new £30 million Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art 

The practice, which has paired with Riga-based outfit AB3D, also beat Lahdelma & Mahlamäki from Finland, Dutch firm Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Germany’s Sauerbruch Hutton and wHY from the US in the invited contest organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants.

The judges were impressed by the ’highly-animated tilting roof geometry’ of Adjaye’s concept which is designed to capture the ’soft northern light and bring it into every gallery’.

According to the architects, the competition-winning scheme was ’conceived as a social condenser, bringing people together through a variety of formal and serendipitous interactions’.

Funded by the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation together with the ABLV Charitable Foundation, the proposed museum will sit in the centre of Riga and has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the ‘most-visited art museum in the Baltic states’.

Shortlist in full

The competition jury was chaired by David Bickle from London’s V&A museum.

Bickle said: ’The winning proposal is a beautiful and poetic response to the challenge of the design brief but above all it is specific to Riga. The team thoroughly understood the effect of soft northern light in experiencing and creating art and this insight was the inspiration for their scheme.

The winning proposal is a beautiful and poetic response

’Through the use of wood and form, the concept design subtly references Latvian architecture, proposing a very animated structure with a lively entrance that will enable the museum to create architectural presence in a new and emerging district.’

He added: ’The design is very welcoming and porous – it has the potential to be loved.’

The gallery is set to open in November 2021.

Winning design in contest for Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art [June 2016]

Winning design in contest for Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art [June 2016]

WINNER: Adjaye Associates with AB3D

The jury

David Bickle (chair) director of design, exhibitions and FuturePlan at the V&A 
Uldis Balodis, architect, representing the Latvian Ministry of Culture
Gianni Botsford, founder of Gianni Botsford Architects
Jānis Dripe, architect, representing the Latvia Ministry of Culture
Reinier de Graaf, partner at Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
Luke Jerram, visual artist and director of Luke Jerram 
Ieva Valtere, executive director of Pillar Management, SIA
Elīna Vikmane, board member of the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation
Malcolm Reading, competition director


Dace Melbārde, minister for culture of the Republic of Latvia 

’With the excellence of international architecture and Latvia’s significant contribution, we are a major step closer to the long awaited building of the Museum of Contemporary Art. My thanks to all for their hard work so far – the patrons, competition organisers, the architects and the jury. The selected project has the potential to supplement the map of landmarks of Northern European architecture with the shapes and use of materials characteristic of Latvia.’

Read more about the competition here

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