In cities large and small, look at the vibrant and growing arts scene worldwide — new museums, splendid opera halls, concert venues, old buildings turned to new uses – and it’s hard to believe that the 2008 “great recession,” which upended multiple national economies as well symphonies, ballet, opera and dance troupes, and long-time museums, is truly over. Dozens of projects – just completed and underway — are dotting cities on every continent, despite the turmoil and uncertainty in many places.
Internationally recognized architect Renzo Piano, co-designer with Richard Rogers of Paris’s eccentric and beloved Centre Georges Pompidou (“the inside out museum”), spoke recently of the power of buildings in an interview with The New Yorker. He says that museums, libraries and concert halls “… become places where people share values, where they stay together,” he said. “And this is what I call the civic role of architecture.” (January 15 2015 issue of The New Yorker)
Green News Update is hosting a series of roundups in the year ahead, on dozens of projects worldwide – Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US. Our story this month includes some “ticklers” as alerts to come back and visit in the months ahead.
Along the way, consider what they offer:
- They help shape the look and functionality of cities– often in the revitalization of waterfronts and aging downtowns
- Among the most notable designs of the past half-century
- Economic drivers that attract development: hotels, restaurants, and businesses
- Magnets for students, tourists, educators, visionaries in the arts
- Legacy – private collections go public; new outlets for creative people
Are they worth it? You get to decide in the coming year!
A taste of what’s happening worldwide
Africa & The Middle East
South Africa: Cape Town The Zeitz Museum, housing the largest contemporary collection of African art on the entire continent, is scheduled to open in 2016 in Cape Town’s Alfred Waterfront District. It’s a nine-story colossus with over 102,000 square feet for exhibitions and education.
So who is Jochen Zeitz? Former chairman of Puma, one of the world’s leading sportswear companies, Zeitz is a major collector of African art. Until the new building opens, a temporary pavilion on the waterfront will display works from his collection, considered one of world’s leading art collections.
Morocco: Rabat The nation’s capital and a World Heritage site (2012), Rabat has Roman ruins, a medieval district, and European flavored-boulevards, along with a beautiful seaside. The Musee Mohammed VI, a modern and contemporary art museum – the first in the nation, to open in 2015. Details
Morocco: Marrakesh The Morocco Museum for Photography and Visual Arts aims to be the largest photography gallery in the world. When it opens in 2016, there will be 80,000 square feet for a small collection, but ample exhibition space for rotating shows, and especially as a showcase for Moroccan and North African photographers. Currently, the Museum is in a temporary location –the Badi Palace located at the edge of the medina. Natl Public Radio story
Qatar: Doha In this petite but powerful emirate, The Qatar Museums Authority under the patronage of Sheikha al-Mayassa Hamad bint Khalifa al-Thani, the organization’s chairwoman and the sister to the new emir, is implementing a 10-year plan to establish a network of museums in Doha: Museum of Islamic Art designed by I.M. Pei, National Museum of Qatar by Jean Nouvel (Quai Branley Museum in Paris!), and Arab Museum of Modern Art by the Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. Learn more
The National Museum – its design inspired by the desert rose–also features a park filled with indigenous plants, research center, and hub for students and the public. Look carefully: It is built around Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani’s original palace – his family home and seat of the government for 25 years. There’s also the Katara Cultural Village—replete with concert halls, theater and restaurants — with the QM Gallery, Katara, as a casual venue for exhibitions.
Scotland: Glasgow’s waterfront is being transformed by some 250 development projects that include two by Norman Foster and the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, which houses the Transport Museum (at a cost of 74 £million) that opened in 2013.
Great Britain: London The Serpentine Gallery comprises two venues situated 5 minutes from each other on either side of The Serpentine Bridge in the heart of the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens. Each year an architect is invited to design a temporary gallery in the gardens (past designers include Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Jean Nouvel) that stays up for about 6 months’ of artful activities.
The other is the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and opened in 2013, a venue for world-renowned exhibitions of art, architecture and design throughout the year The Serpentine Sackler Galler, located in a former 1805 gunpowder storage building with the addition designed by Hadid opened in 2013. Details about the Serpentine Sackler
Norway: Oslo Two projects speak volumes about waterfront revitalization in Norway’s capital. Tjuvholmen, or Thief Island, on the waterfront is where you will find the new Astrup Fearnley Museet of Modern Art – designed by Renzo Piano. Opened in 2013, the structure has a sloping, sail-shaped roof that nearly dips into the water.
This is a modern art museum where, likely as not, you will find exhibitions that feature Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and Cindy Sherman. The Oslo Opera House designed by Snøhetta – which houses both the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet – is also a waterfront wonder in the Oslo Fjord in which an old industrial site has been transformed right to the water’s edge with a roof that looks like it is emerging from the water. Journalist David Owen suggests the building itself “has become a busy public square” with sunbathers, swimmers, marine fowl and lovers! The New Yorker January 21, 2013
Copenhagen: LEGO and the Danes: It’s estimated that kids worldwide spend 5 billion hours a year playing with Legos – and that doesn’t count architects and adults who construct landmark buildings or original structures with Legos (the words “leg godt” mean “play well”).
A new, 12,000-square-meter Lego visitor center is under construction in Billund – the company’s headquarters– that is estimated to attract 250,000 visitors a year. The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG, Danish, of course) has designed a set of stacked rectangles, with a Lego-style building atop, 23 meters high. The “experience” center for kids also features numerous outdoor roof terraces plus a public plaza. Details
The Netherlands: A future article in Green News Update will explore how the Dutch government has invested several billion euros in the past decade on gleaming arts institutions that attract a worldwide audience: Europe’s largest public library (featuring many arts uses), Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, Van Gogh Museum, Maritime Museum, the new Museum of Film, The Hague’s Mauritshuis, a music conservatory and more.
France ooh la la: The Louvre is a bottomless well of artistic treasures – and new venues. Come back for an article featuring the Louvre’s branch museum in Lens, the extraordinary Islamic galleries in Paris, multi-million-dollar improvements to the Louvre’s entrance, and the Louvre satellite museum in Qatar.
Paris is not sleeping: There’s the audacious new Fondation Vuitton (above, designed by Frank Gehry); a private museum owned by billionaire Bernard Arnault; the refurbished and reinstalled Picasso Museum, over budget and behind schedule; and a new 2400-seat philharmonic hall by Jean Nouvel in the 19th on the city’s edge. We’ll share details in a future article.
The Dordogne/Lascaux: Lascaux IV: International Cave Painting Center. Snohetta and Casson Mann have been awarded the commission for a new, $50 million euro interpretive center that will give visitors a 21st century experience for the famed 35,000 year-old Lascaux cave paintings made by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers. The 1940 discovery by four teenagers in the Lascaux Caves in southern France of beautifully subtle paintings and engravings of animals – aurochs, horses, red deer – will come to life in a replica environment.
This design has a low profile that reflects the contours of the limestone topography; inside there will be an immersive environment that allows visitors to experience a complex cave set up, with tunnels and chambers pierced by shafts of sunlight. [The caves are closed indefinitely to protect them from the humidity and bacteria that people bring with them.] Details
Moulins: If dance is your thing, the Centre National du Costume de Scene is now the epicenter of famed dancer/choreographer Rudolf Nureyev’s world and his collection of costumes, stage flats, and the recreation of a room from Nureyev’s Paris flat at 23 Quai Voltaire. While Moulins is three hours by train from Paris, it’s not a trip too far for those who love the world of dance or had the privilege of seeing Nureyev perform in his wonder years. New York
Hungary: Pecs Just 125 miles south of Budapest, this Austro-Hungarian city boasts the sprawling Zsolnay Cultural Quarter—a World Heritage Site and venue for art, music and children’s events. Pecs was a 2010 European Cultural Capital –no surprise.
There’s a modernist 1,000-seat Kodaly Concert Center, planetarium, exhibition spaces, and the chance to buy modern versions of the fabulous Zsolnay porcelains – contained in beautifully preserved buildings from the Hapsburg Baroque style. Details
Moscow: The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art was first located in the Constructivist-era Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, designed by Konstantin Melnikov; now in a temporary structure designed by Pritzker-Prize-winner Shugeru Ban; and soon to be in its final destination, the former Vremena Goda restaurant in famed Gorky Park, a prefab concrete pavilion that served as a popular gathering spot. The OMA design firm is revamping the building to preserve some original Soviet-era elements (mosaics, bricks, and tile) but make it an art-worthy space, with includes exhibition galleries on two levels, a creative center for children, shop, café, auditorium and offices. Details
South Korea: Seoul offers three novel venues offer the opportunity to experience design, contemporary art and a traditional look at the Korean language.
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza offers 900,000 square feet of art, architecture and design by Zaha Hadid that looks like a silver spaceship, intended to revitalize an older shopping area into an international design hub. Details
Opened in 2013, the 650,000-square-foot Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – opened in 2013 after a design competition– aims to be the MoMA of Seoul. And the new National Hangeul Museum – 121,000 square feet—is a specialty museum devoted to the Korean alphabet and language. Hangeul Museum
China Green News Update cannot confirm what the Chinese Society of Museums has released: about 400 museums have opened in the last decade, at a rate of up to 100 a year. However, Shanghai is getting a lot of recognition for museums that not only look good but have significant content to make them visit-worthy. The Yuz Museum in Xuhui District, Shanghai, is designed by Japanese Architect Sou Fujimoto, has a total area of 9,000 square meters for exhibitions. For contemporary art it’s a great venue: a huge (3000 sq meter) space is from a converted hangar – once the hangar of the Longhua Airport. Yuz Museum
Meanwhile, another 2014 addition is the 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, repurposed from the former French Pavilion of 2010 World Expo. It is described as a comprehensive museum—a platform for integrating the arts and humanities, international exchange and creation of contemporary art that serves the local population of Shanghai and visitors from abroad. Minsheng Museum
India: Mumbai The Mumbai City Museum is getting a new 125,000-square-foot north wing by architect Steven Holl following a competition that included Zaha Hadid and the OMA firm.
Designboom describes the project as “a sculpted subtraction from a simple geometry formed by the site boundaries.” The design uses white concrete with “deep cuts in the structure’s envelope bring in exactly 25 lumens of daylight to each gallery.” Designboom article
Colombia: Medellin It’s a turn-around thanks to urban renewal for a city that was once notorious as the center of major narco-traffickers. The Biblioteca España, a modern public library and community space in the low-income Santo Domingo neighborhood and expansion of the Museo de Arte Moderno – housed in a former steel mill — are two important improvements. Equally important, aerial gondolas (“metrocables”) and outdoor escalators at dizzying heights now link hillside areas to the central city. Details
Brazil Rio de Janeiro: The World Cup (2014) and upcoming Summer Olympic Games (2016) are spurring an arts boom despite a severe water shortage in Sao Paulo and complaints that the water venues for the Summer Games are polluted and strewn with trash. The City of the Arts (Cidade das Artes) is the new home of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. Another newly opened project: a branch of the Zurich-based Daros Latinamerica Collection, housed in a renovated 19th-century building. And the first phase of the Rio Museum of Art has opened in Praça Mauá.
The Museum of Tomorrow is a signature project for revitalizing the port area,. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the museum and plaza (310 meters in length) extend into Guanabara Bay on a manmade pier – 300,000+ square feet of museum, pools, gardens, bikeway and trails. Inspired by the bromeliad (a tropical plant) the building will feature a movable roof of metal petals that open and follow the sunlight. There’s a host of green features in the project: certified wood, reuse of seawater for air conditioning, 5,000 solar panels to power the construction work. Theme-wise the museum addresses the past but looks 50 years ahead to see what the planet and its ecosystems are like. Video
Come back for more ?
Here’s a taste of what is ahead
- World cities in the arts: Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, New York
- Opera/music centers: people magnets in multiple cities from Oslo to Tokyo
- Botanical gardens reconnect with nature using green design and practices
- Olympics and FIFA World Cup cities vie with museums and arts venues
- Global aspirations: expansion of the Louvre, Guggenheim, Smithsonian