A leading centre for the arts started off with flying colours when Kiran Nadar, Founder and Chairperson of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), shared the stage with Sir David Adjaye (Order of the British Empire) at the Venice Biennale to announce that Sir David’s firm, Adjaye Associates, had been selected — following a keen competition — to design the new state-of-the-art building in the National Capital Region, New Delhi, which will house the new museum and cultural centre.
Billed as a leading, privately funded institution for the arts in India, the new centre will house a public museum of contemporary arts and a centre for dance, music and creative education.
Kiran Nadar has a passion for arts and culture and has made it her mission to be an advocate for the arts in India and beyond. But there are other feathers to her cap. She is a professional bridge player and has represented India on the international stage and brought home the bronze medal in the Asian Games last year.
“This centre will be an open-to-all cultural powerhouse furthering our vision of making arts accessible to everyone,” says Nadar. “It’s rooted in the conviction that we need to build protected spaces where imagination can breathe. Just as literature and educational programmes open up minds, an arts and culture experience stimulates new ways of thinking.”
“This is our first cultural commission in India. But, personally, for me, it’s the culmination of a much longer journey. I first came to India many years ago and immediately felt a profound connection with her life and energy,” says Sir David.
“We’re elated and honoured to win this competition. The new building will celebrate and foster public interest in contemporary arts, culture and creative partnerships and enable the KNMA to continue its admirable pursuit of engaging younger audiences and future generations with one of the finest, and most diverse, collections of modern and contemporary Indian art,” says Sir David.
The global search to find an outstanding design team was led by competition specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants of UK. The competition was launched in the second half of 2018, when 47 leading studios from 15 countries were invited to participate in the contest’s first stage. In Stage 2, five of them were shortlisted and asked to create concept designs.
According to Malcolm Reading, Competition Director and Jury Chair, “The complex brief challenged teams by 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 clearly sited and dispersed.”
The cultural powerhouse
The building unites two cores — a performance wing and an arts wing — connected by a courtyard and a dramatic Atrium of Discovery. Nature and gardens are integral to the design — from the entrance courtyard, moving up through dynamic green spaces and terraces to the lush rooftop pavilion.
Adjaye Associates will partner with local architect S Ghosh and Associates; engineers of WSP; theatre and acoustic design consultancy Charcoalblue; lighting designers Studio Fractal; and management support consultants Plan A.
‘A cinematic experience’
‘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’