Client: New Taipei City Government Department of Cultural Affairs

Program: Art museum

Size: 550,000 sq ft

Budget: N/A

Completion Date: August 1st 2011 competition

Built: Unbuilt

Material: Steel, fiberglass, glass

Architect: Herwig Baumgartner, Scott Uriu

Team: Nema Ashjaee, Perla Aguayo, Steven Sun, Rebecca Gilbert

The proposed design for the New Taipei City Museum of Art (NTCArt) creates not only a visually stunning architectural landmark for the region and beyond, but also aims to redefine the museum typology, with a transformation from an exclusive territory for artist, patron and expert into a place that promotes art as a lifestyle and lifestyle as art: a “people’s art museum.”

The design embraces this concept by softening and removing traditional and spatial boundaries between the museum and the surrounding urban context. The creation of bright, relaxed exhibition spaces with plenty of daylight from above and large openings that frame stunning views of the surroundings—forming many visual connections between the city and the exhibition spaces—exemplifies this notion throughout the museum, establishing a visual dialogue that emphasizes art’s ubiquity and centrality via the promotion of a seamless fusion of art and lifestyle.

On the ground floor, this connection is achieved by virtue of an open, outdoor lobby space—lined with shops, restaurants, art bookstores, and information centers—that is directly connected with the park. The museum is designed with multiple access points from the park, a large entrance plaza with drop-off areas for buses and cars, and a pedestrian bridge, which spans the creek and Huan-He Road, thereby connecting the museum to the city center. The landscape smoothly transitions upwards into the building while transforming into green roofs for the public service spaces below and creating continuous pathways from the park to the raised lobby space in the center of the building. From there, visitors are able to reach the top level of the museum through a center core that houses the museum archive, which becomes an active part of the museum. The core, expressed as an 85-meter-tall sculptural art vault that includes all main circulation elements, such as elevators and stairs, not only protects the art from exposure to sunlight and humidity, but also forms a central focal point as one moves through the galleries.

The exhibition spaces are organized in an upward spiral formation around the center core—a vertical staggering of the exhibition spaces that creates a large void above each gallery on the exterior and allows for natural daylight to enter through skylights above. The formation contributes to the dynamic and expressive morphology of the museum’s envelope, which mimics this movement. The visitors are brought up to the top level with express elevators; after disembarking, they are able to wander back down in a spiral-like circulation through the different galleries.

The resource center and Children’s Museum of Art are located on the first four levels on the north side of the museum and directly connect to the exhibition spaces above and the outdoor lobby, park, and public spaces below. Special care was given to placing the classrooms, reading rooms, and many of the children’s museum exhibition spaces—as well as the auditorium and the Arts Hall of Fame—around the lobby space. By virtue of their maximum transparency, these spaces become a lively backdrop for the museum’s entrance in their promotion of art and education.