This year we have welcomed a cultural hotspot to the UAE with the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, and a cascade of other new openings show that the appetite for art doesn’t stop there. Come with us on a discovery the worlds most inspiring new museums.
Louvre ABU DHABI
The pierced, shallow-domed dish of architect Mr Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi covers what has become the most eagerly awaited museum in the Gulf. The museum beneath the sheltering dome appears as a Middle Eastern city, a jumble of white blocks assorted in an urban arrangement of pools and streets through which the visitor wanders, sheltered, all the while, by that great curving canopy above. The tangle of structural members which make up the dome allow enough light to penetrate the interior and filter it through its complex web so that thousands of sharp beams illuminate the spaces below. The single, sculptural gesture of the dome allows the museum below to be functional and flexible, without constricting it as some of the more sculptural architectural shells tend to do.
Interactive Spy Museum NEW YORK CITY
Adjaye Associates has unveiled designs for SPYSCAPE, a new museum and interactive experience that illuminates the world of espionage from historical secret intelligence to modern day hacking through a collection of rare artefacts, exhilarating storytelling, and immersive personalised experiences. Located a stone’s throw from Times Square in New York City, the 60,000-square-foot space is planned to open next year, and will use architecture as a key element of the museum experience. Inspired by the spaces occupied by the world’s most significant spy organisations, the building interiors will resemble a small town, with a variety of spaces unfolding beneath a vaulted canopy. Circulation will lead visitors through a wide range of vantage points and perspectives, playing with perceptions and drawing you into the individual pavilions.
Yves Saint Laurent Museum MARRAKECH
Yves Saint Laurent had many muses, but only one Marrakech, the city where he discovered light and colour, draping and caftans. There, in a series of homes, of which his final and most notable was the opulent Villa Oasis, Saint Laurent sketched some of his best designs. This year, some 50 years after the designer’s first visit to Morocco, a 43,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fashion museum designed by the Paris-based firm Studio KO, will open, housing thousands of articles of clothing and haute couture accessories, all carefully selected by Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s partner in business and in life. Expect to see such iconic pieces as Le Smoking and the safari jacket, but not an exhaustive retrospective.
Zeitz Mocaa CAPE TOWN
Set to become Africa’s most important cultural attraction, and established through a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and former Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa will showcase diverse modern art from throughout the continent, and is the first major museum of its kind in all of Africa. The latest blockbuster from designer Mr Thomas Heatherwick is an ingenious re-use of a huge grain silo on Cape Town’s V&A waterfront. With no single space to exploit, Mr Heatherwick hit on the idea of carving out the bottom of the silos, creating an enormous void in a shape inspired by one of the grains the space originally stored. The result is a remarkable effect that looms above the visitors.
Lego House DENMARK
From the yellow amphitheatre built into its sides, to the tree thrusting through its innards, the extraordinary new Lego House in Billund, Denmark, is a riot of interconnecting blocks that begs fans young and old to climb aboard. Designed, perhaps unsurprisingly, to resemble a Lego construction, the 12,000-square metre house of fun is filled with 25 million iconic colourful building blocks. The rectangular white brick over the centre is even formed in the shape of a Lego brick with eight cylindrical studs as ceiling lights. The space is split into two exhibition areas and four play areas, with each zone based on a colour and theme, red is for creative skills, blue is for cognitive skills, green is for social skills and yellow is for emotional skills.
Design Society SHENZHEN
London’s V&A has hugely expanded its capacity and is now spreading further afield to Shenzhen. Situated in the Sea World Culture and Arts Centre, the new institution has been built by developer China Merchants Group, with Japanese architect Mr Fumihiko Maki, in association with the V&A. This isn’t a conventional museum, but more of an arts platform for an evolving programme, something different from its London parent institution. The building is also very different from South Kensington’s complex classical mass, a clean, clear-white edifice with a large roof terrace, it is a very contemporary, though relatively restrained piece of architecture.
By Eliza Scarborough