A beacon in the art world
The businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk discovered contemporary art in the early 2000s and quickly decided to set up an art foundation in his home country of Ukraine. He imagined a beacon for artistic creation in Eastern Europe that would foster cultural exchanges between the East and the West. PCA-STREAM was entrusted with the design of what is the first Ukrainian museum of contemporary art. Since its inception, the museum has emerged a leading international institution and some of the greatest contemporary artists have exhibited works there, including Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Olafur Eliasson.
An architectural challenge
The Pinchuk Art Centre is located in the central district of Kiev. Transforming the desired site into a museum was a relatively complex operation given that this implied having to work on nearly 2,600 sqm in an old building that was being revamped. Its stories of rough concrete, which are both long and narrow, were better suited to an office use. Beyond the technical and regulatory constraints of this context, PCA-STREAM was to meet the challenge of achieving the overall project in less than a year. In collaboration with local technical and architectural teams, PCA-STREAM remotely took care of the design, development, and monitoring of this express project.
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The building was completely gutted and restructured within, though still retaining its richly colored and decorated façade. In contrast with its classical ornamented envelope, PCA-STREAM’s project had been imagined according to a minimalistic approach. Its architecture was designed so as not to interfere with the exhibited works. As the art collection was still in the process of being assembled, an intensive dialog took place with Nicolas Bourriaud, the artistic adviser of the foundation, aiming at inventing both the substance and the form regarding the collection and the constraints of the site. On the topmost floor, with its large glass skylight with views on the roofs of Kiev, is a café and museum shop. The floor below, which is almost entirely plunged into darkness, is dedicated to video works. The main exhibition area is distributed on the two lower levels, where double heights were created so as to accommodate monumental works.
A sensory journey
The complex spatial configuration imposed a linear route that meanders from one floor to the next. PCA-STREAM explored the idea of a sensory journey through the works of art. A luminous path and granite strips embedded in the ground guide the visitors around. Each work becomes a stopover in a journey where Ukrainian and international artists are confronted. Granite, a material that is widely available in Ukraine, is diverted within a feature that evokes hardwood floorboards and emphasizes the itinerary to be taken in a palette of satin grays. The scratched stone evokes the raked gravel Japanese gardens. This graphic treatment of the itinerary traced through the exhibition areas reinforces the coherence and the identity of the place.
A contemporary identity
It was necessary to imagine a museum with an avant-garde appearance for Viktor Pinchuk, a building that asserts itself as a forerunner of the modernization of Ukrainian society and mentalities. Spatially and metaphorically, PCA-STREAM has designed a project that entices the public to discover contemporary art. To solve the problem of the visibility and access of the foundation, an architectural feature draws passers-by into the building from the street level. In the stairwell, an installation of metal tubes serves as a railing, and wallpapers designed by artists enliven the stair landings. Concluding the ascent, a video-lounge and a panoramic bar embody a confrontation of temporalities: they overlook the historic city while offering a futuristic atmosphere by means of a geometric treatment of immaculate whiteness. The myriad of triangular facets evokes the language of computer modeling. The different functions of this area—as a bar, a screening space, and a library—and its dynamic programming of meetings and events both epitomize the project as an invitation to share a lively modernity.
|Client||Fondation Victor Pinchuk|
|Program||Creation of a contemporary art center|
|Surface area||5 000m²|
|Cost||10 M€ HT|