Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art
Riga, Latvia 2016
Client: Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation Competition
The competition design for the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Riga set out to make a special place in the city and an inspiring environment in which to encounter contemporary art. The design for the new building—situated on a large open site that was awaiting a substantial development—was conceived as an abstract and idealised vision of a museum, bringing together art, architecture and landscape, in an almost Arcadian composition of buildings and gardens.
Organised as a collection of large and small buildings, the proposed museum is bound together with the landscape around it, in a similar way to the rich interplay between an English country house and its surrounding gardens. The building has white cast concrete walls and makes a complex figure that is distinctive from every angle. At the centre of the composition is the tower that marks the entrance to the museum, a landmark for the city.
The arrangement of the galleries—with their different scales and aspects—provides a sequence of spaces, with a variety and rhythm for the changing exhibitions and collection displays. There is a careful balance between the qualities that make art spaces distinct and the characteristics that allow flexibility of use. There is no distinction between collection galleries and temporary exhibition spaces. All the galleries can be used together and there is maximum flexibility in how art can be installed.
The gardens are designed as a place for artists’ commissions, for sculpture and for pavilions. They are arranged with open lines of trees and spaces extending outwards from the museum, without apparent boundaries, to remind visitors of the flat and extensive landscapes that surround the city, at the edge between the farm and the forest.
Caruso St John developed the proposed design in collaboration with the Latvian architectural practice Jaunromāns un Ābele.
Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John
Thomas Back, James Hand, Marie Kristin Lutz, Amy Perkins
Jaunromāns un Ābele