Update: We've amended the post with new images from Asymptote Architecture and new quotes from Asymptote Co-founder and Design Partner Hani Rashid.
Asymptote Architecture has revealed renderings of their design for a new Contemporary branch of the Hermitage Museum, to be located adjacent to a new residential district in the area of the former ZIL automotive plant in Moscow. Presented at the V Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum by Asymptote Co-founder and Design Partner Hani Rashid, the museum will house a collection of contemporary art from 20th and 21st centuries.
This article originally appeared on guggenheim.org/blogs under the title "Nine Guggenheim Exhibitions Designed by Architects," and is used with permission.
Exhibition design is never straightforward, but that is especially true within the highly unconventional architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. Hanging a painting in a traditional “box” gallery can be literally straightforward, whereas every exhibition at the Guggenheim is the reinvention of one of the world’s most distinctive and iconic buildings. The building mandates site-specific exhibition design—partition walls, pedestals, vitrines, and benches are custom-fabricated for every show. At the same time, these qualities of the building present an opportunity for truly memorable, unique installations. Design happens simultaneously on a micro and macro scale—creating display solutions for individual works of art while producing an overall context and flow that engages the curatorial vision for the exhibition. This is why the museum’s stellar in-house exhibition designers all have an architecture background. They have developed intimate relationships with every angle and curve of the quarter-mile ramp and sloping walls.
When it comes to urbanism these days, people’s attention is increasingly turning to Moscow. The city clearly intends to become one of the world’s leading megacities in the near future and is employing all necessary means to achieve its goal, with the city government showing itself to be very willing to invest in important urban developments (though not without some criticism).
A key player in this plan has been the Moscow Urban Forum. Although the forum’s stated goal is to find adequate designs for future megacities, a major positive side-effect is that it enables the city to organize the best competitions, select the best designers, and build the best urban spaces to promote the city of Moscow. The Forum also publishes research and academic documents to inform Moscow’s future endeavors; for example, Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication inspired by the 2013 forum and released in 2014, notably influenced the urban development on the outskirts of Moscow, but also highlighted the importance of combining urban development with the existing landscape.
Founded in 1989, Asymptote Architecture is one of those rare practices that gained their initial notoriety despite the fact that in the early years of their practice most of their designs went unbuilt. As a result, only in the last decade or so have the practice's futuristic and parametric forms truly been tested as physical architecture, with projects such as the Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi. In this installment of his “City of Ideas” column,Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Asymptote founders Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture about their inspirations, the creation of space and whether architecture can ever be thought of as solving problems.
Vladimir Belogolovsky:I noticed little arrows at your reception saying, “Administration” to the left, “Picabia” to the left, “Studio 2” to the left, “Duchamp” to the right…What are these things?
Hani Rashid: These are the names we have attributed to our meeting spaces using the names of the influences that are acting on us, our cultural ghosts. For example, the room we are now in is “Constant” referring to the great visionary Constant Nieuwenhuys but also a play on “constant” as a verb meaning something is always happening here. [Laughs.] And this naming system also serves to remind us that the work that we do here is not only about the “business” of designing buildings but more importantly, it has to do with the nature of our thinking and a shared passion in this office for developing new and insightful ideas.
Today in Moscow, Asymptote Architecture unveiled plans for the new Hermitage Modern Contemporary, alongside a 150-meter tower planned for ZiL - the city's oldest industrial area and former Soviet automotive factory. The State Hermitage Museum's newest outpost, the 15-story satellite facility was said to be inspired by El Lissitzky's "Proun" painting, which informed the building's "terraced interior."
“With so much museum work over the years, we’ve dress-rehearsed for the Hermitage,” Hani Rashid of Asymptote told the New York Times back in July. “We’ve done a lot of thinking about how art might be seen in the future, about how the museum building itself can provoke artistic responses.”