To become a world-class city requires a delicate balance between cost and standard of living, multiculturalism and café culture. But the defining factor is a great cultural institution – several, if there’s money. As Washington, DC inaugurates its 20th Smithsonian this autumn, a handful of urban centres launch their own paeans to art, design, music, antiquity and technology. What they share is an understanding of fine craftsmanship, historic motifs and striking materials. And, of course, the knowledge that the building is just as important as what’s within.
Opening 9 September
Hong Kongers anticipating the opening of the long-delayed M+ Museum get this little-sister pavilion by a collective of competition-winners. Its mirrored shell supports a vast white-walled gallery with a lookout across the harbour, then spills into rolling lawn, a foil for the rest of congested Kowloon. One opening exhibition will feature local artist Tsang Kin-Wah, who represented Hong Kong at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Opening 9 September
Art, music, co-working, studios, fashion and food are set to collide inside new creative hub, The Store, 180 The Strand. It takes over a 1970s Brutalist building designed by Frederick Gibberd and kicks off with the Hayward Gallery’s first ever off-site exhibition, The Infinite Mix. Visitors will discover hologram-like installations, multi-screen works and cinema-style 3D projections, set within the cavernous concrete spaces of the little-seen landmark overlooking the Thames.
Opening 24 September
David Adjaye’s bronze filigree tiers occupy a prime spot on the Mall, with the Washington Monument looming behind. Referencing the intricate ironwork forged by enslaved Africans in the South, it holds eight stories of relics, from disturbing photography to recorded music to iron shackles. A triple-height ‘oculus’ at the heart of the interior brings in natural light and tumbling water.
The NMC, near the grounds of Calgary’s fabled Stampede, is purpose-built for the production, broadcast and performance of primarily Canadian music. Allied Works have incorporated nine curved towers with state-of-the-art acoustics, faced in terracotta and flooded with ambient light.
Opening 5 October
Seemingly swelling out of the shoreline, Amanda Levete’s fluid MAAT bridges the divide between central Lisbon and its sunny suburb Belém. Visitors who scale the graduating 3D-tiled façade will get an eyeful of Lisbon’s brilliant red suspension bridge. Inside is an inspiring collection of futuristic machinery and deft European design.
John Pawson’s first cultural hub opening this autumn repurposes a 6,000sq m former telecommunications bunker for the new Feuerle Collection. The minimalist concrete space was right up Pawson’s alley and he’s taken a predictably subtle approach, allowing the hard-hitting private collection of Désiré Feuerle – everything from Qing Dynasty furniture and Khmer sculpture to contemporary art by Anish Kapoor – to sing.
Opening 13 November
In November the University of California at Davis reveals an art and education centre that echoes its low, sprawling campus. Galleries, performance halls and classrooms at the Manetti Shrem Museum cover nearly 5,000 sq m, but are linked by an undulating roof called the Grand Canopy, constructed with 910 honed-aluminium triangles. The interconnected shapes cast striated shadows across a vaulted courtyard, providing a hub for the university and wider area.
Opening 24 November
Two years behind schedule, the Brutalist tepee of the former Commonwealth Institute has been gutted, glassed in and given a succession of clean wood floors surrounding a central atrium. With triple the space of the Design Museum’s original Shad Thames site, the revamped museum will be able to deliver multiple exhibitions alongside an enhanced permanent collection for an audience of 500,000 a year.
Opening 27 November
The Faena brand entrenches itself deeper into Miami beach with a building the real estate group hopes will be the cultural nucleus of the city. Rem Koolhaas’ streaked white cylinder on the seafront is impossibly bright inside its spiral dome, a place for musical ‘happenings’ and experimental sculpture to collide. The remaining 4,000sq m will host concerts, art exhibitions, technology forums and the like.
With Copacabana beach in the foreground and the mountains behind, the Museu da Imagem e do Som needed some pizzazz to stand out. External walkways climb the levels like mountain trails, offering panoramic views and dramatic switchbacks. Most importantly, they connect seamlessly with the existing promenade – a ‘vertical boulevard’, according to the architects.
In the question of ‘which came first’, the building or the ‘world culture’ to be displayed within, it is definitely this iridescent twist of a building. Snøhetta’s shiny, new facility contains all the hopes of Saudi Arabia for a ‘Bilbao effect’. Anchored by a library with 200,000 pristine books, it also has cinemas, auditoria and exhibition halls.