CLAD's Review of 2016: The best museums of the year
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CLAD's Review of 2016: The best museums of the year

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2016 has been a breakthrough year for leisure architecture, with buildings celebrated by some of the world's most prestigious architecture awards, including the World Architecture Festival Building of the Year, the Stirling Prize, the Aga Khan Awards and the inaugural RIBA International Prize.

A host of incredible leisure buildings have been completed this year, including remarkable projects from the likes of Herzog and de Meuron, David Adjaye, Bjarke Ingels, Santiago Calatrava, Amanda Levete, MKV Design and the late, great Zaha Hadid.

Over the course of the next few days, we will look back on some of the most significant openings of 2016 across the leisure sectors – from hotels and spas to stadiums and health clubs. We start our year review with a list of the boundary-pushing museum buildings that have opened over the last twelve months.

Museums and Galleries

The Tate Modern’s Switch House by Herzog & de Meuron


The long-gestating expansion to London’s Tate Modern art museum opened in June, to favourable public review. Named the Switch House, the expansion is formed of a towering 10-storey "twisted pyramid" – 65m (213ft) tall and 21,500sq m (230,400sq ft) in size – formed of a concrete structure that folds into dramatic lines as it rises. A new perforated lattice of 336,000 bricks, created by British company Swift Brickworks, reinterprets the original building’s facade and allows light to filter in during the day.

The Design Museum by OMA, John Pawson, Allies and Morrison and partners


While this new opening in Kensington, London has somewhat divided critics, it stands out as one of the most innovative and unlikely architectural collaborations on a major leisure project in recent times. The story of the development – in which OMA, Allies and Morrison, Arup, John Pawson and West 8 all worked together to restore are adapt the former Commonwealth Institute Building – is just as remarkable as the design, which has seen the building’s famous hyperbolic paraboloid copper roof retained while the interior was rebuilt from scratch. Interviews with all key players will appear in the next print issue of CLADmag.

The Museum of Tomorrow by Santiago Calatrava


While officially opening at the end of December 2015, Santiago Calatrava’s typically futuristic Museau do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) is included in this list for its role in the city’s legacy programme following the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a crowd-friendly new hub of culture, information and science, the museum has been earmarked as a key player in the continued development of the Brazilian capital. Calatrava’s 30,000sq m (323,000sq ft) white-clad complex features a cantilevering roof supporting a series of large mobile wings.

The Mathematics Gallery, Science Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects


As Zaha Hadid Architects’ first completed project in the UK since the death of its pioneering founder, the Science Museum’s £5m new gallery was the focus of much media attention. As ZHA senior associate Bidisha Sinh told CLAD, the finished article sticks very closely to Hadid’s vision for the project, which imagined what a gallery would look like if inspired by the sweeping air flow created by a 1920s aeroplane. Geometrics and architecture are combined with flair in a bid “to make maths cool again.”

Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) by AL_A


This curving, low-rise new home for Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) enjoyed its soft opening in October. Four distinct gallery spaces sit beneath the undulating roof of the new building, which has been conceived to blend into the landscape and to create significant new public spaces on the roof and along the waterfront of the River Tagus. As a result, visitors can walk over, under and through the building. The most striking aspects of the design are its roof, which forms an exciting new public space for the city, and its ceramic-clad facade which shimmers as it reflects the sunlight bouncing off the water.

The National Museum and Dialogue Centre in Szczecin by Robert Konieczny KWK Promes


The winner of this year’s Building of the Year prize, this museum and educational centre t charts the recent history of the Polish city Szczecin. With the main building sat underground, and the roof forming part of the square, the value of open public space is retained and enhanced. The jury at the World Architecture Festival, led by David Chipperfield, described the project “as a piece of topography as well as a museum.”

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) by Snøhetta


This striking new building, which opened in May, is one of the largest projects to be completed by the Norwegian innovators Snøhetta. The firm added an abstract, fog-like 10-storey extension to SFMOMA’s existing building on 151 Third Street, tripling the exhibition space. The most striking feature is perhaps the eastern façade, which comprises more than 700 uniquely-shaped crystal-embedded fibreglass reinforced polymer panels that catch the changing light throughout the day, gradually altering the building's appearance.

The Palestinian Museum by Heneghan Peng


The US$60m project, located in the West Bank north of Jerusalem, was designed with the intention of creating an iconic building to act as a beacon of hope for the Palestinian people. After over 15 years in development, it finally opened in May this year, albeit without any exhibits. Describing the subtle, nature-inspired design, project architect Conor Sreenan told CLAD: “Our intention wasn’t to create a building as an ‘object’ dropped onto the landscape. It was to create something which is derived directly from it: emerging from its surroundings to create a strong profile for the hilltop, integrated into the landscape, but also creating an assertive form with a distinctive identity.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture by David Adjaye


2016 has been a big year for British architect David Adjaye, with the November opening of his The 400,000sq ft (37,000sq m) National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C, described by Adjaye as “one of the defining moments” of his career. Located on a five-acre site on Constitution Avenue next to the Washington Monument, the nine-storey museum focuses on themes of African American history, culture and community. With its instantly memorable form and intricate bronze exterior, the museum is a new landmark for a city and a nation. As Adjaye told CLAD earlier this year, “I could never remake this museum, or repeat it, because it’s so bound up in the particulars of its location, of its goals and of its place in history.”

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2016 has been a breakthrough year for leisure architecture, with leisure buildings celebrated by some of the world's most prestigious architecture awards, including the World Architecture Festival Building of the Year, the Stirling Prize, the Aga Khan Awards, the 2016 Structural Awards, and the inaugural RIBA International Prize.

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