Anticipating a Second Stage: The New Taipei City Museum of Art Design Competition

by Stanley Collyer


Finalist entry by Kengo Kuma and Associates


To arrive at a design for a new art museum in Taipei, the organizers decided to allow the participants more flexibility than usual in devising their planning concepts for the new institution. According to the design brief, “the planning and design guidelines in this program are for reference only. The designer must propose…new possibilities for modern art museums, define the exhibition method, and propose new space requirement, then proceed (in) the planning and design based on the new required spaces and design guidelines.”

The Jury Process

It is not unusual to find different personnel involved in different stages of the selection process. Normally this change of faces occurs after an RfQ screening committee process, whereby a limited number of finalists are shortlisted for a single-stage presentation of proposals. In this case, the competition was open to international participants, with a first-stage jury made up of local design professionals. In the second stage—to be decided in October—we will see three outside jurors, Peter Cook (UK), Norihiko Dan (Japan), and Julien de Smedt (Denmark) joining four local professionals on that jury, the latter being in the majority. Will their enthusiasm for the selected finalists rise to the level of that exhibited by the first stage jurors?

As for the finalists, all three had quite different approaches, albeit leaning heavily on former precedents. The choices varied from linear and vertical to historicism as design mechanism. The finalists were:

  • Federico Soriano Pelaez, Spain
  • Peter Boronski / Jean-Loup Baldacci, New Zealand/France
  • Kengo Kuma / Kengo Kuma & Associates, Japan

Five honorable mentions were:

  • James Law Cybertecture International Holding Limit (Hong Kong)
    Sung Goo Yang with Oscar Kang (USA)
  • Ian Yan-Wen Shao with JR-Gang Chi, Ar-Ch Studio (R.O.C.)
  • Jafar Bazzaz (Iran)
  • Ysutaka Oonari Masamichi Kawakami, 101 Design (Japan)

There were also ten merit awards.

The Finalists

Peter Boronski / Jean-Loup Baldacci

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Composed of a layered, undulating configuration tied together by the topography, one wonders if the jury had the firm, Foreign Office, or even Zaha Hadid in mind when it selected this design for the final round. Despite such superficial comparisons, this entry suggests a strong connection to a park-like setting, a place to be visited on weekends and holidays with the entire family. A landlocked version of the Oslo Opera House?

Federico Soriano Pelaez

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This is a very theoretical scheme, based in part on bits and pieces of past museum plans. How these isolated parts can all fit together in a cohesive whole is something the upcoming jury will undoubtedly wrestle with. This proposal raises many questions, not the least of which will be circulation. Another may be its low profile, with a significant part of it being located underground. This entry is notable in that its presentation is completely in black and white—not one color rendering. How often do you see that in this computer age?

Kengo Kuma / Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Here the similarity to Frank Gehry can hardly be avoided, apart from the material nature of the facade wrapping around a normal structure. As icon, this entry represents a truly strong urban statement. Sustainability is high on the list of priorities here; but lurking in the background will always be the question of budget viability, that is, does the City have unlimited resources to realize this project?

At this writing, we did not have access to the honorable mentions; but numerous non-winners have already begun to pop up on the internet as the results of this first round have become public.