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The Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art is a proposed building that will be designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with AB3D, in the capital city of Riga.

The architects were selected through an international competition organised by the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation (LMoCAF), which announced the results on 16 June 2016. The competition for the €30m ($33.2m) contemporary art museum was launched in November 2015 and will be funded by the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation, as well as the ABLV Charitable Foundation.

Designed to exhibit the art and visual culture of Latvia and the Baltic Sea region, the museum will display collections ranging from the 1960s to the present day. It will hold the distinction of being the country’s first newly commissioned museum since independence, and also be the first purpose-built building holding a national collection of contemporary art.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the museum is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Site details of the new art museum in Latvia

The new museum will be the highlight of a 24.5ha commercial and residential development known as the New Hanza City, located close to Riga’s city centre.

Accompanying the museum will be a city garden spread across 1.6ha and office buildings, a hotel, a conference centre, upmarket housing, a pre-school educational centre and other recreation outlets. The museum will be constructed on an area of 7,000m².

Design details of Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art

The design of the museum features the region’s north light as an important aspect of the building, which provides inspiration both for the visitors and the artists. A unique silhouette with an animated roofscape lends an attractive appeal to the museum and allows it to create a distinct identity among the areas of commercial and residential establishments.

Designed as a place of meeting and social gatherings, the building will act as an active social condenser, promoting interactions. The entry of the museum will be an open setting that will welcome visitors into the world-class contemporary architecture.

The form of the building imbibes the traditional Baltic architecture and is visually similar to a plain wooden house, which has been modified into an institutional architecture. The museum is designed to be a home for the art collection while being open to visitors for cultural and civic exchange.

Facilities available

To cater to a wide array of artwork, the museum features flexible spaces varying from small, chapel-like spaces for intimate works to more expansive areas for displaying larger exhibits. It also includes a number of places for holding public gatherings and events.

A large auditorium and atrium in the building are accessible via a sloped plaza outside the museum that connects to sliding doors. The space created between the museum’s interior and exterior is large enough to be used as a performance area for special events.

The roof of the grand concourse is a cast concrete waffle structure that takes inspiration from Latvian decorative patterns and also creates a significant acoustic effect. The galleries are accessed through a spiral staircase with a concrete base and floating guardrail.

Sustainability features and materials used

The steeply pitched roof of the museum follows the architectural design of the region and is designed for heavy snowfall. The tilts in the roof are designed with a specific geometry and its glazed northern side captures the northern light.

The amount of sunlight received by the museum’s galleries is decided by the pitched gable arrangement of the roof that creates flexibility in the northern light flowing in the galleries.

Solid timber that matches the wooden cladding of the building‘s exterior is used to design the guardrail of the staircase. Locally sourced Scots Pine timber is used to create the cladding of the galleries, which resembles the skin of red-stained vertical fins. The colour is symbolic of the red of the Latvian flag.