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Future Cities Forum Winter Awards 2023 - short-listed international cultural category


Above: The IAAM Charleston - courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed and The International African American Museum


Future Cities Forum is releasing the names of the short-listed projects in the international cultural category to be judged at our Winter Awards 2023.



The International African American Museum, Charleston, USA


The International African American Museum tells the unvarnished stories of the African American experience across generations, the trauma and triumph that gave rise to a resilient people. The Museum describes the new building:


'The building hovers 13 feet above the historic site of Gadsden’s Wharf, the port of arrival for nearly half of all enslaved Africans brought to North America. Both building and gardens work in tandem to tell stories of the African diaspora and create spaces where visitors can confront profound emotions and share in lively new traditions. With its floor to ceiling windows, the building grants a visual through-line between the city of Charleston and its harbour, while carefully contextualized design elements deftly connect past with present.

'Architect Pei Cobb Freed & Partners selected materials for the historic site, including a warm brick exterior on the north and south sides and clear glass enclosures on the east and west ends, affording visitors sweeping views of the Charleston Harbour and city itself.

'Recognizing that the building should not touch the hallowed ground on which it is set, it is instead hoisted by 18 cylindrical columns clad in oyster shell tabby, a historically significant material that was also used as paving in portions of the ground plane. Inside the building, furniture sourced and designed by architect of record Moody Nolan doubles as functional art. As visitors move about the museum, bench seating crafts a conceptual passage through time, telling visual stories from a rich African ancestry, to the powerful spirit of resilience, to the enduring cultural traditions that are treasured today.


'One of the most defining elements of the gardens is the Tide Tribute, an ephemeral presentation of the “Brookes” slave ship diagram, a now-famous depiction of the Transatlantic Slave Trade’s profoundly inhumane transport conditions.

'The Tide Tribute is grounded in relief figures, each representative of a man, woman, or child who laid shackled in the bellies of ships that were once anchored steps away in Charleston Harbour. As the tide changes, the shallow pool of water fills and empties, covering and revealing the shapes of those it honours. Bordered by the historic line of Gadsden’s Wharf, the tribute emphasizes the fluidity of the past, present, and future.

'When people move, they carry with them cultural knowledge, symbolic ties, and physical pieces of lands left behind.

In designing the African Ancestors Memorial Garden, Walter Hood thoughtfully considered multifaceted ways to link Charleston to a network of global sites of memory connected by the history of slavery and its legacies. From its Palm Grove studded with Canary Island Palms, a reflection of the African Diaspora, to its Sweetgrass Field filled with waist-high grasses that serve as the foundation of Lowcountry basket weaving traditions, each feature of the African Ancestors Memorial Garden tells its own story.'


Above: storage facilities in the Sursock Museum, Beirut (courtesy Sursock Museum)


Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon


The Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum is housed in Nicolas Sursock’s former residence, built in 1912. The Museum’s architecture integrates Venetian and Ottoman elements that were typical in Lebanon at the turn of the century. Sursock Museum explains how the museum is designed:


'The Salon Arabe, where Sursock greeted his guests, remains intact. The hand-carved woodwork that makes up its walls and ceiling was imported from Damascus in the 1920s. Some of the mansion’s original tiles are still visible on the first floor of the Museum. In 1999, the building was classified as a class A historical building by the Directorate General of Antiquities.

'When the Museum first opened, Sursock’s residence remained roughly intact, hosting the Salon d’Automne and temporary exhibitions in its many rooms. In order to transform the mansion from a living space into an exhibition space, an expansion project was undertaken in 1970 by Lebanese architect Grégoire Sérof. The expansion reconfigured the villa’s interior so that key areas were converted into gallery and storage spaces. Most notably, the renovation included the addition of skylights to the second floor, where temporary exhibitions were held.



Above: Above the facade of the Sursock Museum in 2016 (courtesy Betabat engineers and contractors)

'In 2008, the Museum underwent a five-year-long renovation and expansion project. The project was initiated in 2000 by the President of the Museum’s Committee at the time, Ghassan Tueni, who, along with the Committee, commissioned the architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Jacques Aboukhaled to undertake the expansion project. The works were completed in 2014 under the mandate of Dr. Bilal Hamad, the Museum’s current moutawalli, and Dr. Tarek Mitri, the Chair of the Museum’s General Committee.

'The expansion added four floors beneath the Museum’s garden, resulting in a fivefold increase in the Museum’s total surface area from 1,500 square meters to 8,500 square meters. The main challenge faced by the architects was the creation of new spaces twenty meters deep below the Museum while preserving and bolstering the building’s original architecture.


'The new facilities feature additional exhibition spaces, including a 650-square meter hall dedicated to temporary exhibitions, a 168-seat auditorium, a comprehensive research library, two storage spaces for the Museum’s permanent collection and archives, and a restoration workshop, as well as a store and café/restaurant. This architectural revamp provides all the necessary components for the Museum to function as a state-of-the-art cultural institution, and to redefine the presentation of its collection and exhibitions.'


Lebanon’s Sursock Museum has reopened - AP News reported on 27th May this year - to the public, three years after a deadly explosion in Beirut’s port — set off by tons of improperly stored chemicals — reduced many of its treasured paintings and collections to ashes.



Above: Exterior of MAP, Bengaluru (courtesy Mathew and Ghosh Architects)


The Museum of Art and Photography, Bengaluru, India

MAP is situated in the heart of the city of Bengaluru, India on Kasturba Road, within walking-distance of Cubbon Park, MG Road and Vidhana Soudha metro stations. Divided into five-storeys, the museum includes art galleries, an auditorium, an art and research library, an education centre, a specialised research and conservation facility, a cafe, member’s lounge and fine-dining restaurant.


MAP describes its mission:


'The Museum’s mission is to democratise art, making it as fun and relatable to everyone as possible!

We hope to change the perception of museums and art by making our museum a melting pot of ideas, stories and cultural exchange. Ultimately, we want to inspire people to interact with art in ways that encourage humanity, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the world we live in.


'As one of India’s most prominent collectors, Abhishek Poddar has acquired an extensive collection of Indian art, photography and textiles over the past three decades, which forms the nucleus of MAP’s collection.


'Poddar’s keen interest in art was cultivated early on in his childhood, having grown up around art. Throughout his journey, he formed several personal relationships with Indian artists, of which the most significant was his friendship with the artist Manjit Bawa. Bawa mentored the young collector and introduced him to the works of many other leading modern artists at the time, such as Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar, Arpita Singh and J. Swaminathan, most of whom are important names in MAP’s current collection.


'Inspired by his travels and visits to museums around the world, Poddar was eager to revive the cultural landscape of the city of Bengaluru, and to pioneer a museum-going culture for children and adults. This is how the ambitious project of MAP was born. In December 2016, Christie’s held an auction of a major contingent of the Poddar family’s personal collection, and the funds acquired were used to drive forward his vision. This major contribution also encouraged the establishment of MAP’s Gifts Programme, which allowed for donations of artworks by other patrons and artists, such as Deepak Puri, Jyoti Bhatt, and Barbara Kipper. Today, MAP is custodian to a growing collection of over 60,000 artworks that take viewers on a comprehensive journey of Indian art and culture.


'Designed by Mathew & Ghosh, the building features a strong focus on accessibility, to support people with disabilities who visit the museum. Designed with steel panels that are embossed with a cross pattern, the facade of the building resembles an industrial water tank, which is meant to bring out the metaphorical connection between the idea of storing something precious: in this case, art. The simple and unique design, material, transparency, and opacity of the building make it an architectural icon in the city of Bengaluru.

The designing and execution was carried out under the close guidance of the MAP Architectural Committee, led by Rahul Mehrotra of RMA Architects, and with Mahrukh Tarapore and the late Martand Singh as its core members.'



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