The Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA), Herzog & de Meuron’s first project in India, has broken ground in the new district of Rajarhat. The new museum seeks to embrace the city’s renowned cultural past and ultimately transform it into India’s “Art City”. Programs ranging from high-end gallery and art restoration facilities, to artist studios and an outdoor performance theater aims to empower local artists so they may play a critical role in the evolution of their community.
KMOMA’s 50,000 square meters of program is designed to merge modern and contemporary, national and international art together with performing arts, music, cinema, photography, literature, fine art and sculpture. Facilities will be equally divided into two zones: a museum containing galleries, art restoration, education, research facilities, photographic facilities, offices and theatre; and a ‘Culture City’ containing dining and event spaces, commercial facilities, artist studios and residences, spaces for the sale of art and crafts, outdoor performance space, public space and car parking.
“The concept envisions a collection of simple rectilinear volumes (made of cast masonry blocks) of urban and monumental scale, arranged to express the complexity and diversity of the program,” described Herzog & de Meuron. “It draws on traditional Indian construction principles of stacking individual elements, producing a coherent and legible whole through the collection and compression of diverse, unique elements. These elements appear as strata in the façade of the volumes and reflect the simplicity with which they will be built.”
“At the east and south entrances to the site, volumes and voids create courtyards, streets, alleyways and market-like experiences which lead the visitor into a central plaza, a place for gathering and orientation. At the west end of the plaza, the museum rises in a vertical stack of volumes asserting a presence within the complex and the greater urban context.
“Punctuated throughout the complex are a series of public spaces connected by a network of generous staircases carving out the exterior and interior of the building. The assembly of different program, scales and qualities throughout the site gives the proposal a city-like quality.”
The building responds the Kolkata’s tropical climate by utilizing passive design methods. Volumes are strategically placed to control sun exposure during hot and humid summers, while a water basin in the Central Plaza swells during the Monsoon season. Lush vegetation further enhances the environment by weaving together the diverse building program and providing a pleasant transition for pedestrian’s approaching the museum.
Partners In ChargeJacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Harry Gugger, Christine Binswanger
Project TeamBen Duckworth (Associate, Project Director), Michael Bekker (Project Manager), Edman Choy (Associate, Project Manager), Tomislav Dushanov (Associate)
ClientThe KMOMA Trust
PhotographsKolkata Museum of Modern Art, Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron