Located in moscow’s gorky park, the garage museum of contemporary art has opened its doors to the public for the first time. the building, which has been designed by rem koolhaas’ international studio OMA, hosts the gallery of russian businessperson and art collector dasha zhukova. The project sees the renovation and reuse of the 1960s vremena goda pavilion, with a new program containing diverse exhibition, learning, research and event space configured to showcase the best of contemporary russian culture.
Spread over two extensive floors, the exterior of the building is characterized by a polycarbonate façade. Purposely raised 2.25 meters above ground level, the lifted elevation offers visitors glimpses inside the building, while also ensuring external ground floor views towards the surrounding parkland.
The stalin-era gorky park was planned in the 1920s by soviet constructivist architect konstantin melnikov, who also designed the bakhmetevsky bus garage – the institution’s previous home. opened in 1928, the park extends 300 acres along the moskva river in the heart of moscow, and is currently undergoing a major regeneration.
‘We are very happy to work on turning the almost-ruin of vremena goda into the new house for garage,’ explained rem koolhaas. ‘we were able, with our client and her team, to explore the qualities of generosity, dimension, openness, and transparency of the soviet wreckage and find new uses and interpretations for them.’
The interior facilitates two levels of exhibition areas as well as a creative center for children, a shop, a café, an auditorium and a variety of offices. The existing concrete structure – along with a large mosaic, decorative tiles and exposed brick elements – maintains the character of the pre-soviet era. The future resident non-profit initiative intends to explore and introduce contemporary russian art into international circuits, while encouraging new generations of artists to emerge with the new facility.
The ground floor, with a height of 5.65 meters, functions as an experimental zone, where exhibition programs share space with public events in the lobby, as well as with educational and recreational facilities and storage spaces. The 3.7 meter upper level is conceived as a more conventional exhibition zone for paintings, sculptures, video, photography and other media. while the existing walls in the upper level keep their brick and green tile cladding, OMA has also designed hinged white walls that can be folded down from the ceiling, creating an instant white cube when an exhibition demands a more neutral environment.