In November, the Architectural Review concluded its search for this year's most promising young designers, awarding a total of 15 projects in its annual Emerging Architecture Awards. Selected by a jury comprising David Adjaye, Peter Cook and Odile Decq alongside AR Editor Christine Murray, these 15 projects included just one firm from China: WAA (We Architect Anonymous), whose Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was commended by the judges. In this article, former associate member of Archigram Colin Fournier reviews the awarded building, showing an appreciation of WAA's work equal to - or perhaps even greater than - the award's jury.
This contemporary art museum is not what it seems. It appears, at first, to be a fairly familiar manifestation of the contemporary architectural discourse, and indeed the striking fluidity of its lines and its impressive mastery of parametrically-enabled tectonics as well as GRC technology put it on a par with recent buildings by Zaha Hadid or MAD, but this first impression is somewhat deceptive: the building is, in fact, refreshingly unique and a radical point of departure from the dominant design ideology of our times, a significant rupture from the orthodoxy. And a very promising one.