Adjaye Associates wins MRC’s Kiran Nadar Museum of Art & Cultural Center invited competition

New gallery anticipated to become India’s leading privately-funded arts institution

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art image

Mrs Kiran Nadar © Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (left) and Sir David Adjaye © Ed Reeve (right)

Acclaimed designer chosen for new cultural powerhouse that is anticipated to become the leading privately-funded institution for the arts in India.

Mrs Kiran Nadar and Sir David Adjaye OBE RA announced today [9 May 2019] at the Venice Biennale that Adjaye Associates has won the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art & Kiran Nadar Cultural Center International Design Competition.

The global search to find an outstanding team to design a contemporary art museum combined with a cultural center for dance, music and creative education was led by competition specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants.

This new destination, to be known as the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art & Cultural Center (KNMACC), has a joint vision focused on education, young people and the power of creativity.

The new building, in New Delhi NCR, will enable KNMA, which has a world-class collection of Indian Modern and contemporary art, to build on its remarkable success to date.

The competition launched in the second half of 2018 when a long-list of 47 leading studios from 15 countries was invited to participate in the contest’s first stage. At stage two, a shortlist of five practices was asked to create concept designs. They were (in alphabetical order):

  • Adjaye Associates (UK)
  • Ennead Architects (US)
  • Selldorf Architects (US)
  • Snøhetta (Norway)
  • Thomas Phifer and Partners (US)

Adjaye Associates was the unanimous choice of the international jury (see full details below). The team’s ‘veil of triangles’ design, a reference to the sacred geometries of trees and mountains, was praised for being both elegant and iconic; in the words of the jury, it was ‘a visually and emotionally engaging building that was alive, dancing and timeless’.

Kiran Nadar, Chair, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and Cultural Center, said:

‘This Center will be a cultural powerhouse open to all, furthering our vision of making art accessible to everyone. It is rooted in the conviction that we need to make protected spaces for the life of the imagination. Just as literacy and education programs open minds, the arts and culture experience stimulates new ways of thinking.
‘Sir David’s design incorporates a series of thresholds to art and performance. It creates a cinematic experience for visitors, who encounter artworks and artists as they move from the street through the atrium and up through the building to the lush rooftop garden.
‘This new cultural powerhouse is envisaged as a first for India in combining an outstanding contemporary art museum with a cultural center for dance, music and creative education.’

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director and Jury Chair, said:

‘The complex brief challenged teams in asking for a charismatic as well as an efficient building.
‘The winning proposal is distinctive and intriguing but also underpinned with organisational logic and clarity: the galleries are skilfully handled, and the programmatic functions are clearly sited and dispersed.’

Sir David Adjaye OBE RA, Principal, Adjaye Associates, said:

‘This is our first cultural commission in India but for me personally, it is the culmination of a much longer journey. I first came to India many years ago and immediately felt a profound connection with the life and energy.
‘As a practice we are elated and honoured to win this competition. The new building will celebrate and foster public interest in contemporary art, culture and creative partnerships, and enable KNMA to continue their admirable pursuit of engaging younger audiences and future generations with one of the finest and most diverse collections of Indian Modern and contemporary art.
‘In a city that is in perpetual motion, we hope this new addition will offer a much-needed place for thinking, observing, reflecting and learning, granting a renewed sense of togetherness and belonging.’

Sir David Adjaye OBE RA is a Ghanaian-born British architect, whose most famous building is the award-winning Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. In 2018, Sir David chaired the Stirling Prize jury, Britain’s highest award for excellence in architecture.

Adjaye Associates’ most recent completed buildings include a new contemporary art museum, Ruby City, in San Antonio, Texas for the Linda Pace Foundation and the Ghana Freedom Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Adjaye Associates will partner with local architect S. Ghosh & Associates and the team is supported by engineers WSP; theatre and acoustic design consultancy Charcoalblue; lighting designers Studio Fractal; and management support consultants Plan A.

The full jury comprised:

  • Kiran Nadar, Chair, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
  • Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Executive Director and CEO, HCL Enterprise
  • Shikhar Malhotra, Vice Chairman, HCL Healthcare
  • Malcolm Reading, Competition Director (Jury Chair)
  • Glenn D Lowry, Director, MoMA, New York
  • Chris Dercon, Art Historian, Curator, and former Director, Tate Modern
  • Scott Newman, Partner, Cooper Robertson

Each of the five shortlisted practices received an honorarium of £25,000 plus expenses for travel to India.