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Future Cities Forum summer 2024 Awards - cultural sector shortlist

Image courtesy of Istanbul Modern

Our summer 2024 awards judging takes place this June and the shortlist museum projects in our cultural category are: Istanbul Modern, Richard Gilder Centre for Science, Education and Innovation, New York and Perth Museum.

Istanbul Modern

Founded as Turkey's first modern and contemporary art museum, Istanbul Modern opened its doors in 2004 in the Warehouse Building No. 4 built on the shores of the Bosphorus. The new museum building completed last year (2023), which is in the same location as the old building, bears the signature of Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Located in front of Istanbul Modern's new building, the formerly closed promenade allows visitors to observe the Anatolian side, the Princes' Islands and the Historic Peninsula with its unique location. Inspired by the sparkling waters and light reflections of the Bosphorus right next to it, the museum building strengthens the relationship between the seashore and Tophane Park with its transparent ground floor design, based on the qualities of this unique area.

The circular columns and mechanical chimneys on the ground floor create a kind of architectural landscape. The circular cross-section of all these building components softens the transitions between light and shadow. At the same time, the differences between light and dark areas are not sharp, which contributes to creating a bright and safe atmosphere.

Spaces designed for cafes, shops, libraries, information points and training workshops on the ground floor surround the main lobby on this floor. The transparent glass fence under the main mass of the building provides sheltered spaces for educational workshops where children's workshops will be set up, as well as areas where sculptures will be exhibited outdoors.

Located in the large opening in the center of the lobby, the main staircase connects the public areas of the museum. The staircase provides access from the ground floor lobby to the 156-seat auditorium located in the mezzanine on the lower floor. The photo gallery, short-term exhibition hall and employee offices, as well as training and activity rooms are located on the first floor. Located on the south side, the restaurant opens to the sea view with its terrace.

The foyer areas on the upper floors offer visitors a combination of park and sea views. Window openings allow the building to constantly interact visually with its surroundings, making it easy for visitors to understand their position inside as they move through the structure.

The glass volume reached by the staircase rising from the second kataki foyer area, which houses the collection and temporary exhibition halls, opens to the observation terrace. This area, which is located on the shallow water layer that completely covers the top of the building, offers an experience where the reflection of the city on the water and the sea right next to the building come together.

Istanbul Modern's new building was built with the joint contribution of the museum's founding sponsor, Eczacıbaşı Group, and its main sponsor, Doğuş Group-Bilgili Holding

About Renzo Piano and Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW):

Born in 1937 in Genoa, Italy, RPBW founder Renzo Piano designed the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France) with Richard Rogers; Menil Collection (Houston, USA); Fondation Beyeler (Basel, Switzerland); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, USA); Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (Athens, Greece) and Centro Botín (Santander, Spain) are known for their cultural and artistic buildings such as the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (Los Angeles, USA). Renzo Piano, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize, which is defined as the most important award in the field of architecture, in 1998, was also honored by many prestigious institutions and organizations.

Founded in 1981 and with an office in Paris as well as Genoa, Renzo Piano Building Worksop (RPBW) carries out its work with 12 main partners, including its founder Renzo Piano, and approximately 140 architects. RPBW carries out its projects in different disciplines such as interior architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and exhibition design with a participatory working method. While RPBW responds to the needs of the building and its location with its designs, it offers solutions by considering factors such as materials, building elements design and sustainability in the spaces it designs.


Istanbul Modern, 2016 - 2023

Architecture, Renzo Piano Building Workshop

In collaboration with Arup Istanbul

Design team: E.Baglietto (principal partner in charge), F.Giacobello (principal partner in charge), R.Dunphy

with M.Cecchetto, E.Doyduk, M.Tokarnia, R.Wong and M.Yildirim; B. Pignatti, A. Pizzolato, C. Zaccaria (computer-generated images); M.Abidos, F.Cappellini, D.Lange, F.Terranova (models)

Consultants: Arup (load-bearing system, mechanical and electrical installation, lighting); R.Uysalkan (interior architecture), JML (reflection pool)

Main contractor: Yapı Merkezi

Image above courtesy of the Richard Gilder Centre for Science, Education and Innovation, New York

Richard Gilder Centre

It's being called “New York’s most exciting new building", according to the Richard Gilder Centre, part of The American Museum of National History, New York. Inspired by natural formations that spark curiosity and exploration, the Gilder Centre creates more than 30 connections among 10 of the Museum’s buildings to improve visitor circulation on campus. It was designed by Studio Gang, the international and urban practice design firm led by Jeanne Gang. 

The architecture studio describes the project:

'Conceived from the inside-out, the design vastly improves functionality and visitor experience for the entire Museum campus. Establishing a new, fully accessible entrance at Columbus Avenue and a strong east-west axis, the project creates more than thirty connections among ten different buildings, replacing former dead ends with continuous loops. Providing new exhibition, education, collections, and research spaces, the Gilder Centre also brings essential yet previously back-of-house functions into public view for the first time, giving visitors new insight into the full breadth of the Museum’s diverse collections and active scientific research.

'Natural form-making processes informed the architecture. Akin to a porous geologic formation shaped by the flow of wind and water, the building’s central, five-story atrium greets arriving visitors like an intriguing landscape, ready to be explored. Opening the building to natural daylight, the atrium structure also provides intriguing views into different spaces while bridging physical connections between them. Its structural walls and arches carry the building’s gravity loads. It is constructed using shotcrete, a technique primarily used for infrastructure, which sprays structural concrete directly onto rebar cages that were digitally modelled and custom-bent. Eliminating the waste of formwork, the technique achieves a seamless, visually and spatially continuous interior, whose form extends outward to greet the park and neighbourhood beyond.'

The American Museum of Natural History in which the new Centre sits states:

'The Gilder Centre's unique, organic design is informed by the natural paths wind and water carve into landscapes that are exciting to explore, as well as the forms that water etches in blocks of ice. Visitors enter through the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium, a sunlit central space notable for its seamless, undulating interior of arching walls, bridges, and caverns that invites everyone to explore by offering alluring glimpses of exhibitions, collections spaces, and classrooms on four levels. The Griffin Atrium, like much of the Gilder Centre, was constructed by spraying structural concrete directly onto rebar without formwork. This spray technique, known as "shotcrete," was invented by Museum naturalist and taxidermist Carl Akeley and is finished by hand.


'The Gilder Centre facade is clad in Milford pink granite–the same stone used for the Museum's entrance on Central Park West. The rounded windows are made of bird-safe fritted glass. The diagonal pattern of the stone panels evokes both the phenomenon of geological layering and the richly textured surface of the stone masonry on the 77th Street side of the Museum.

'Within the museum, The Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) transforms knowledge—from diverse sources and perspectives, and spanning areas of scientific research as well as traditional and local knowledge—into conservation action, seeks to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity in the field of conservation towards a culturally vibrant conservation workforce. 

'In the field of genomic science, the Museum has a unique role: that of exploring the genomes of a great diversity of species. Such research allows scientists to map the evolutionary relationships among organisms—living and extinct—and to use that knowledge for applications that include systematics, conservation, and disease ecology.

'The Museum and the Institute's approach considers the 3.8 billion year history of life as a grand biological experiment, one whose observation requires the integration of molecular, anatomical, and paleontological data. That effort has now become the focus for more than 70 research staff and students using facilities that include modern molecular laboratories, substantial bioinformatics capacity, and a frozen-tissue collection facility. These, together with research collaborations with other prominent scientific institutions, position the Museum to enhance its important contributions to genomics research.'

Image courtesy of Mecanoo

Perth Museum

Scotland's new Perth Museum opened on Easter weekend March 2024, featuring a rare Jacobite wine glass and Bonnie Prince Charlie's sword on public display for the first time. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the grandson of James II, who became the King of England in 1685. He played a pivotal role in the 1745 Jacobite uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie's solid-silver-hilted broadsword, crafted by Perth artisan James Brown in 1739, is returning to Scotland for the first time since its creation.

Designed by Mecanoo, Perth Museum will welcome visitors after a £27 million redevelopment of the former city hall. Mecanoo envisions the project as a means to create a new gateway to Perth, connecting its history and pride. The proposal aims to re-activate Perth City Hall through a series of 'light touch' interventions that embrace the building's beauty and character while improving accessibility and reinforcing existing connections. By increasing transparency on all sides and providing level access, people are encouraged to visit.

Mecanoo undertook the challenging task of revitalizing Perth's former City Hall—a structure that epitomizes the grandeur of the Edwardian Period, dating back to its inauguration in 1914.Perth's former City Hall, with its classical façade and storied past, presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Like skilled artisans, the firm approached the project with' the precision of a surgeon, recognizing the delicate balance between preservation and innovation'.

The journey began in 2017, as Mecanoo ventured through Perth's scenic landscapes, immersing itself in the city's rich heritage. Upon setting foot in the dilapidated City Hall, once a vibrant concert venue, the practice says it was struck by its faded grandeur and potential for revival. Its exploration extended beyond its walls, delving into the hidden vennels—narrow alleys—that weave through Perth's urban fabric, revealing the city's untold stories.

Central to its concept was the introduction of a Vennel—a symbolic passage cutting through the heart of the building, connecting the Main Hall and the Lesser Hall. This architectural intervention, marked by imposing bronze doors crafted in Black Isle, pays homage to Scotland's craftsmanship and history. The transformation of the former Lesser Hall into a dynamic communal space, complete with a café and event venue, stands as a testament to its commitment to functionality and inclusivity, serving not only visitors but also local inhabitants. By lowering the windows to the floor level, we invite natural light and panoramic views of St. Johns Kirk into the once-introverted space, thereby transforming it into a vibrant hub for community engagement.

At the heart of the museum lies the Main Hall—a sanctuary for Scotland's historical treasures, including the revered Stone of Destiny. Inspired by this iconic artifact, Mecanoo crafted a bespoke oak box, elevating it to a prominent position within the hall. Surrounding it, a meticulously detailed balcony showcases Scotland's national history, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the past.

"The collections housed in Perth and Kinross are recognized for their national significance and are continually developing," stated Charles Kinnoull, chair of Culture Perth & Kinross.

He added, "The opportunity to exhibit new objects like this exquisite Jacobite glass and sword alongside loans from national partners, the existing collections, and the Stone of Destiny, all within a stunning new home in the former city hall, is something I couldn't be more excited about."

Councillor Grant Laing, leader of Perth & Kinross Council, emphasized that Perth Museum will be "a landmark attraction that brings Scotland's history to life and represents the culmination of our long-term cultural regeneration vision for Perth."


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