at the end of every year since 2013, designboom has compiled the most talked about projects from the previous 12 months as part of our BIG stories series. as we begin december, we kick off our annual TOP 10 round up of the year’s biggest and best projects with a look at popular museums and cultural centers. 2019 was a standout year for the typology with a number of much-anticipated projects opening in all corners of the globe. bold designs characterize the designs, with established names collaborating with institutions to bring their creative visions to life.


designboom attended many of the openings in person, including the twist by bjarke ingels group, and the shed — the cultural center in new york designed by diller scofidio + renfro in collaboration with rockwell group. see all 10 of our selected schemes below, and stay tuned as we continue our BIG stories over the coming weeks.



1 – ‘the twist’ by bjarke ingels group at kistefos sculpture park

TOP 10 museums and cultural venues of 2019image by laurian ghinitoiu © bjarke ingels group and kistefos



spanning the winding randselva river, a unique new building connects two forested riverbanks at kistefos — northern europe’s largest sculpture park. part museum, part bridge, and part sculpture, ‘the twist’ has been designed by bjarke ingels group (BIG) and represents the firm’s first project in norway. dramatically torqued at its center, the structure not only allows visitors to cross from one riverbank to the other, but is also capable of hosting an international program of contemporary art exhibitions.


in september, designboom was in attendance to preview the building ahead of its opening. hear the thoughts of bjarke ingels in our exclusive video interview via the link below.

read more here




2 – national museum of qatar by jean nouvel

jean nouvel qatar national museumimage © iwan baan



in march, the national museum of qatar (NMoQ) opened to the public. designed by jean nouvel, the winding gallery offers a journey through a series of unique, encompassing environments including architectural space, music, poetry, archaeological objects, commissioned artworks, monumentally-scaled art films, and more. in total, 11 galleries take visitors from the formation of the qatar peninsula millions of years ago to the nation’s present. giving voice to the nation’s rich heritage and culture and expressing the aspirations of its people, NMoQ will provide diverse educational opportunities for qatar and advance the nation’s cultural vision on the global stage.

read more here



3 – ‘the shed’ by DS+R in collaboration with rockwell group

the shed openingimage by iwan baan, courtesy of the shed



the shed — the telescopic, adaptable structure by DS+R in collaboration with rockwell group — opened to the public on april 5, 2019. the project, best known for its ability to transform and adapt to changes in program, opened in new york city as part of hudson yards — the largest private real estate development in the history of the united states. the scheme comprises two floors of expansive galleries, the versatile 500-seat griffin theater, and the mccourt, a multi-use hall for large-scale performances, installations, and events. a rehearsal space, lab for local artists, and event space are located in the tisch skylights on the top floor. the project previously won THE DESIGN PRIZE in the category of social impact in 2018.

read more here



4 – the binhai science museum by bernard tschumi

bernard tschumi tianjin exploratoriumimage by kris provoost



bernard tschumi architects has completed construction of the binhai science museum, a 33,000-square-meter (355,200-square-foot) structure in northeastern china. now open to the public, the museum building showcases artifacts from tianjin’s industrial past through large-scale contemporary technology, including rockets for space research. the project also contains facilities for cultural events and exhibitions as well as galleries, offices, and restaurant and retail spaces. the project forms part of the binhai cultural center masterplan, which was prepared by GMP and includes a library designed by MVRDV.

read more here



5 – david chipperfield architects completes berlin’s james simon galerie

chipperfield james simon galerieimage © simon menges



the ‘james simon galerie’ — the first new building on berlin’s museum island in almost a century — officially opened in july. designed by david chipperfield architects, the structure provides service facilities for museum visitors as well as temporary exhibition space and an auditorium with around 300 seats. the building is named after one of the city’s most important patrons, who bequeathed his art collections and excavation findings to the berlin state museums at the beginning of the twentieth century. 

read more here



6 – jishou art museum in china by atelier FCJZ

jishou art museum
image by tian fangfang



atelier FCJZ completed this art museum in the historic center of the city of jishou, regional capital of xiangxi, china. the museum, organized within two stacked bridges, spans the wanrong river which runs through the middle of the city and offers a centralized location. while visitors will travel to view the galleries, the circulatory nature of the program — which doubly houses a pedestrian bridge — encourages local residents and commuters to encounter the curated visual arts and experience the culture of the city in passing.

read more here



7 – odunpazari modern museum in turkey by kengo kuma © NAARO



a museum designed by kengo kuma and associates opened to the public in september. the ‘odunpazari modern museum’, or OMM, was conceived by kuma and his team as an architectural landmark for eskişehir, a university city in north west turkey. the building, which appears as a series of stacked wooden volumes, responds to its surrounding streetscape and the neighborhood’s history as a timber trading market. the 4,500 square meter institution contains a 1,000-piece collection of modern and contemporary art.

read more here



8 – herzog & de meuron’s ‘tai kwun’ transformation in hong kong

tai kwun iwan baan
image © iwan baan



herzog & de meuron completed a major new arts complex in hong kong. known as ‘tai kwun’, a name that means ‘big station’ in chinese, the site comprises the city’s former central police station, magistracy, and the victoria prison. as part of the redevelopment, 16 heritage buildings were restored and two new structures, designed by the acclaimed swiss firm, were constructed. the complex, was documented by photographer iwan baan who captured the site’s mix of heritage and contemporary architecture.

read more here



9 – musée cantonal des beaux-arts de lausanne by barozzi veiga

barozzi veiga MCBAimage © matthieu gafsou



barcelona-based firm barozzi veiga completed a major new museum in switzerland, which opened to the public in october. the project — the musée cantonal des beaux-arts de lausanne, or the museum of fine arts — forms part of a larger masterplan for the city’s three main museums, originally proposed by barozzi veiga in 2011. located in close proximity to lausanne’s central railway station, the two hectare site was previously occupied by a 19th century train hall as well as other industrial buildings.

read more here



10 – jining art museum in china by ryue nishizawa
image © office of ryue nishizawa



earlier this year, japanese architect ryue nishizawa completed an art museum in jining, a city in china’s shandong province. the building, which forms part of a larger masterplan, is situated next to a lake and is surrounded by trees and other vegetation. in order to integrate the museum into this context, the architects proposed a single-story building with a large organically-shaped roof. below, exhibition galleries are complemented by a library, offices, and other back-of-house facilities.

read more here



see designboom’s TOP 10 stories archive:

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top 10 towers

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TOP 10 museums and cultural venues of 2019