Latvian Museum of Modern Art Competition

©Adjaye Associates (UK) with AB3D   Images courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants.

Poland and the Baltic states have been playing cultural catch-up with the rest of the world ever since the former gained their independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989. These have included several high-profile competitions for museums in Poland, but also interesting projects in Estonia. Now Latvia and Lithuania are saying that they too should also have modern art museums on par with those in western Europe and Scandinavia. In Latvia, a movement to establish a modern art museum dates back to the early decade of the 21st century. It was then in 2005 that the ABLV Charitable Foundation, established by a local bank, provided endowment funds for purchasing modern art for a museum. They were joined in the museum project by The Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation, which was founded with the purpose of promoting culture.

   Finland has always had close times culturally to the Baltic States, especially to Estonia, and the recent Guggenheim competition there could hardly have gone unnoticed by its southern neighbors. So it should come as no surprise that the Latvian sponsors engaged Malcolm Reading Consultants, the Guggenheim competition adviser, to organize their competition for the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art in the nation’s capital, Riga. Contrary to the Guggenheim competition, this time the finalists were the result of a closed shortlisting process.
They were:

• Adjaye Associates
(UK) with AB3D
Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki (Finland) with MADE Arhitekti
Caruso St John Architects (UK) with Jaunromāns un Ābele
Henning Larsen Architects (Denmark) with MARK Arhitekti
Neutelings Riedijk Architects (Netherlands)
Sauerbruch Hutton (Germany) with Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdiņš
wHY Architecture (US) with Outofbox and ALPS


All of the shortlisted teams had at least some museum experience, and those having somewhat less exposure in this area could point to their expertise in a number of projects relating to the arts. Some had made their mark lately, most notably wHY architecture (US) and Lahdelma & Mahlamäki (Finnland), the latter having won the prestigious open competition for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. With the exception of Neutelings Riedijk Architects, all of the finalists included at least one local Latvian firm on their team. The ultimate competition winner, Adjaye Associates (UK), could bask in the huge amount of publicity generated by the September 2016 opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington D.C.

The competition in many ways resembled a linear exercise, mainly dictated by the site and program. In the end, Adjaye Associates very straightforward, logical approach to the program won the day for the London firm. Although there were not enough jury comments to suggest how the other finalist team(s) were ranked, only one, Sauerbruch Hutton, was given a “mention’, although it was not to be considered as a ranking.

The museum will be built as part of New Hanza City, a new district at a former railway goods station in a northern district of Riga. Comprising 24.5 hectares, the development also will inclulde offices, apartments, a hotel, a nursery school and a public garden.


Adjaye Associates (UK) with AB3D (Latvia)
2adjaye-associates-rendering-4  2adjaye-associates-rendering-2
2adjaye-associates-rendering-5  2adjaye-associates-rendering-3
©Adjaye Associates (UK) with AB3D   Images courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants

Jury Comments
The winning scheme is predicated on the team’s understanding of the material presence of north light in the region, and how this can be inspirational, both for the experience of art and also for artists’ practice. The tilting geometry of the roof is precisely designed to capture soft northern light and bring this into every gallery.The creative collaboration between Adjaye Associates, a leading international practice, and AB3D, an award-winning Latvian team, resulted in a proposal that, through its use of materials and form, is subtly informed by Latvian architecture. The jury considered the museum’s distinctive silhouette with its animated roofscape to be compelling, giving the new museum real presence within the context of the surrounding commercial and residential developments of the forthcoming New Hanza City. The winning design concept proposes the museum as an active social condenser, bringing people together through different interactions, from the formal to the serendipitous. The entry sequence was admired as a particular highlight and, overall, the building was felt to be welcoming and porous, creating many opportunities for public gathering and events.”


Finalist with Recognition
Sauerbruch Hutton (Germany) with Arhitekts Ingurds Lazdins (Latvia)

sauerbruch-hutton-1  sauerbruch-hutton-2 
lmr_entrance  lmr_exhibition

Images: courtesy ©Sauerbruch Hutton  

Jury Comments
“This entry was elegantly presented, describing a place for the production, as well as interpretation and exhibition, of contemporary art. The ambition to create a building that would be responsive to the environment and remove barriers to public access and was warmly endorsed by the jury.”


Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki (Finland) with MADE Arhitekti (Latvia)

lahdelma-6  lahdelma-5
lahdelma-1  lahdelma-2
lahdelma-3  lahdelma-4
Images: courtesy ©Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki


Caruso St John Architects (UK) with Jaunromāns un Ābele

a1-boards-caruso  a1b-boards-caruso
a1d-boards-caruso a1e-boards-caruso

a1f-boards-caruso  a1c-boards-caruso
Images: courtesy ©Caruso St John


Henning Larsen Architects (Denmark) with MARK Arhitekti

bird-eye  atrium

entrance_exterior  entrance_interior
frontal_exterior  gallery
Images: courtesy ©Henning Larsen Architects



wHY Architecture (US) with Outofbox and ALPS (Latvia)
052a2000  lmoca_why_exterior


Images: courtesy ©wHY Architecture



Neutelings Riedijk Architects (Netherlands)
neutelings-riedijk-1  neutelings-riedijk-2
neutelings-riedijk-architects_031x neutelings-riedijk-architects_041x
neutelings-riedijk-architects_061x  neutelings-riedijk-architects_051x
Images: courtesy Malcolm Reading Consultants ©Neutelings Riedijk Architects