Italian architect Renzo Piano has unveiled plans to convert a power station on the banks of Moscow's Moskva River into a new venue for contemporary art.
Moscow's GES2 power station and the two hectares of grounds that surround it will be transformed into an exhibition space for the V-A-C Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Russian art.
Built between 1904 and 1907, the GES2 power station, once a supplier of energy to the city, will now be re-imagined to supply energy of a different kind; that of ideas and creativity.
GES2 will become an exciting cultural destination, offering new opportunities for artists and audiences on a local, national and international level and the first major venue in the city of Moscow for V-A-C Foundation.
The Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) have been commissioned to design the new GES2 and surrounding area, with plans to recuperate the original structure of the power station and to insert a fluid and visible, web-like building-scale device into it. The entire site will be reconfigured into a legible and well-defined square of 150 by 150 metres, framing a birch “Forest”, the main building and a “Piazza” area in front of the Southeast entrance façade. The site will be organised into three main poles: The Welcoming pole, the Exhibitions pole and the Education pole.
The Welcoming pole will be an extensive free access area, featuring an outdoor sculptural garden with a forest of birch trees and an outdoor/indoor piazza, where visitors will be able to enjoy the surroundings and engage with art. The area will include a library, bookshop, amenities such as a café, restaurant as well as an auditorium and permanent and temporary art installations, with its own specific programme of exhibitions and events happening all year round.
The main galleries situated in the Exhibitions pole will be of varied and flexible dimensions, adaptable to accommodate multiple media forms and installation designs, presenting small and large scale exhibitions of both a challenging and experimental nature, as part of V-A-C’s main annual exhibitions programme. This area will also include a 100 metres long and 23 metres high Central Nave. The Education pole will permanently house V-A-C’s annual Curatorial Summer School and will introduce new courses and workshops about contemporary art for children and adults. As well as classrooms, an artist residency block with project rooms will also be located in the area.
To make the experience as friendly as possible, RPBW aims to develop the entire space in a clear and legible way so that the visitor can be guided purely by his or her own intuition, without the need for a map or plan. The new GES2 structure will be surrounded by a natural amphitheatre created by a new topography raised on three sides of the site, to be used as a seating area for film screenings and events, especially during summer when the garden will become an open-air cinema.
An important part of the project is to make the space as environmentally friendly as possible, and the existing chimneys will not only remain part of the city’s skyline, they will become indispensable sustainable devices for the site’s natural ventilation and reduced energy consumption. The overall sustainable strategy includes the use of solar cells and geothermal sources.
RPBW partner Antonio Belvedere will head up the project, which is expected to open towards the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019.
The studio recently completed a new home for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and an extension to the Pathé Foundation in Paris in 2014. It is also responsible for London's tallest skyscraper, The Shard.
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