2018 saw the opening of several much-anticipated museums and cultural centers around the world. bold designs characterize the buildings, as established names in the field of architecture have collaborated with some of the biggest cultural institutions across the globe to bring their creative visions to life. stretching out into dundee’s river tay, kengo kuma’s geometric V&A dundee museum is inspired by scotland’s dramatic cliffs, while álvaro siza designed a series of concrete structures for an arts complex in south korea.


as we begin december, we start our annual TOP 10 round up of the year’s most talked about projects with a look at ten museums and cultural centers featured on designboom over the past 12 months.



1 – tsuruoka city culture hall by kazuyo sejima

https://static.designboom.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/kazuyo-sejima_shogin-tact-tsuruoka_designboom-818.jpgimage © SANAA



kazuyo sejima, the pritzker laureate who leads tokyo-based firm SANAA, completed a major cultural venue in tsuruoka, a city on japan’s northwest coast. the building, which is topped with a series of sweeping canopies, has been designed to be as welcoming and inviting as possible. located in a cultural area of tsuruoka, the institution is surrounded by nature and is sited next to the ‘chidōkan’, a historic school built in 1805.

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2 – V&A dundee design museum by kengo kuma

kengo kuma dundee design museumimage © hufton + crow



after years of planning and construction, the much-anticipated V&A dundee was finally ready to welcome its first visitors. designed by japanese architect kengo kuma, the building contains scotland’s first design museum and seeks to investigate the international importance of design while presenting the country’s outstanding achievements in the field. the project, which took three and a half years to complete, stands at the center of a £1 billion transformation of the dundee waterfront, once part of the city’s docklands.

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3 – saya park by álvaro siza and carlos castanheira

alvaro siza saya parkimage © fernando guerra | FG+SG



álvaro siza worked with fellow portuguese architect carlos castanheira to design a complex of three buildings surrounded by woodland in south korea’s north gyeongsang province. the largest of the three structures developed as part of the ‘saya park’ project is a concrete art pavilion that comprises a variety of exhibition galleries. visitors enter the site from the north where they are greeted by an isolated library contained within a separate volume.

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4 – AZULIK uh may arts center by roth/enchanting transformation

https://static.designboom.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/AZULIK-uh-may-art-center-tulum-mexico-designboom-01.jpgimage © enchanting transformation



in the mexican jungle, at the heart of the yucatan peninsula, a new arts complex opened as part of an eco-friendly luxury resort. inspired by the abundant natural environment and the rich heritage of the local mayan culture, ‘AZULIK uh may’ was conceived as a multi-faceted and flexible venue that comprises art space, a fashion and design lab, an arts and crafts school, a recording studio, and residencies for creative talents. the project joins the adjacent ‘IK LAB’, an arts space previously featured on designboom here.

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5 – wrightwood 659 by tadao ando

wrightwood 659image © jeff goldberg / esto



a new art space designed by pritzker laureate tadao ando opened in the city of chicago on october 12, 2018, with an inaugural show dedicated to the japanese architect and le corbusier. ‘wrightwood 659’ is a new venue devoted to exhibitions on architecture and socially engaged art, and occupies a 1920s building in chicago’s lincoln park neighborhood. adopting his concrete volumes and poetic treatment of light to the site, ando has transformed the former apartment complex into a place for contemplative experiences on art and architecture.

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6 – ‘in bamboo’ cultural center by archi-union

archi-union in bambooimage by li han



in rural daoming, a town in china’s sichuan province, archi-union completed ‘in bamboo’, a multi-functional cultural center capable of accommodating exhibitions, conferences, and other community events. importantly, in order to integrate the site with its neighboring villages and the region’s natural ecology, the project utilizes traditional construction techniques with prefabricated industrialization. consequently, despite its complex geometry, the project was constructed in just 52 days.

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7 – enoura observatory by hiroshi sugimoto / odawara art foundation

hiroshi sugimoto enoura observatory japan designboomimage © designboom



after more than a decade of planning, the enoura observatory by hiroshi sugimoto for the odawara art foundation is now open. set into japan’s hakone mountains, the complex comprises a number of carefully positioned structures — including an art gallery, two stages, a tea house, several gates, and a reception building — that overlook sagami bay. to learn more about the project, and the vision of the artist and photographer, designboom visited the observatory to experience its immersive architectural experience firsthand.

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8 – the menil drawing institute by johnston marklee

TOP 10 museums and cultural venues of 2018image by richard barnes, courtesy of the menil collection



the menil drawing institute, a building designed by LA-based architects johnston marklee, opened to the public on november 3, 2018. the project forms part of the menil collection, a 30-acre neighborhood of art located in houston, texas. rising to a total height of 16 feet (4.8 meters), the scale of the drawing institute mediates between the residential bungalows that surround the campus and the more substantial architecture of the main museum building.

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9 – guardian art center by büro ole scheeren

https://static.designboom.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/buro-ole-scheeren-guardian-art-center-beijing-china-designboom-01.jpgimage by iwan baan



in close proximity to beijing’s forbidden city, büro ole scheeren completed the ‘guardian art center’, a building designed for the display and exchange of art. conceived as a ‘machine for exhibitions and events’, the hybrid institution is at once an auction house, a museum, an event space, and a cultural lifestyle center. ‘the guardian art center represents a new hybrid concept for a cultural institution that transcends the traditional definitions of a contemporary art space,’ say the architects.

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10 – qatar national library by OMA

OMA qatar national libraryimage © iwan baan — OMA



designed by OMA, the qatar national library (QNL) officially opened in doha. QNL encompasses the national library, the public library, the university library, and the heritage collection, which consists of valuable texts and manuscripts related to the arab-islamic civilization. ‘we designed the space so you can see all the books in a panorama,’ explains rem koolhaas. ‘you emerge immediately surrounded by literally every book — all physically present, visible, and accessible, without any particular effort. the interior is so large it’s on an almost urban scale: it could contain an entire population, and also an entire population of books.’

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