Groundbreaking galleries

We take a look at the latest cultural venues by leading architects around the globe

National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar Photography Iwan Baan

Designing cultural venues has always allowed architects to stretch their creative muscles, but these three projects prove there’s still room to surprise...

RUBY CITY by Sir David Adjaye

Ruby City by David Adjave
Ruby City Photography Dror Baldinger/Courtesy of Ruby City and Adjaye Associates

Spectacular cultural landmarks have become British architect Sir David Adjaye’s forte. He already has the award-winning National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and the Marian Goodman gallery in London under his belt, and his latest offering, the Ruby City in San Antonio, Texas, is set to open this October.

Clad in crimson concrete panels inset with red glass and mica that glistens in the Texan sun, the contemporary art centre’s design was inspired by the historic Spanish mission churches that are dotted around the region. Inside, it will showcase the collection of American philanthropist and artist Linda Pace. First imagined in a sketch by Pace, who became acquainted with Adjaye before passing away in 2007, the museum is a striking legacy.


National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar Photography Danica Kus

Having completed the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in 2017, renowned Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel has become the go-to talent for creating modern Arabic architectural wonders. His latest masterpiece, the National Museum of Qatar, which opened in Doha this spring, is a dazzling composition of circular forms. Its unique structure was inspired by desert roses – natural flower- shaped formations of sand and minerals that occur in dry arid conditions.

‘It’s an architecture created by time and the desert itself,’ says Nouvel of the beautiful natural phenomenon. The 539 sandy-hued interlocking discs that make up his homage are clad in glass-fibre reinforced concrete, forming spaces of shade from the intense sun. Concealed within the heart of this modern space is the century-old palace once inhabited by the late Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani – the seat of government for 25 years – as well as Arabic and Persian artworks and artefacts.

THE SHED by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group

The Shed
The Shed Photography by Iwan Baan

Adaptable and expandable, with a colossal retractable roof, The Shed is the latest addition to the Hudson Yards development on the edge of the Chelsea district in New York’s Manhattan. Adding to the architectural delights of the elevated High Line park and the Vessel – British designer Thomas Heatherwick’s beehive-like structure – the new arts centre has been designed by New York-based studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group.

Its roof, made from a steel shell covered in a high-tech plastic, can extend on demand to almost double the size of the complex, catering to the needs of a whole host of performers and artists. The eight-storey building boasts two levels of galleries and a theatre, plus rehearsal and events spaces, and a 1,600-square-metre courtyard for open-air events and installations. ‘There are great institutions in our city, but many of them are about the past,’ says Jonathan Tisch, vice chairman of the arts centre’s board of directors. ‘The Shed is about the future’.

This article first appeared in August 2019 issue of Elle Decoration

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