heneghan peng architects

National Centre for Contemporary Arts | Moscow

Moscow, Russia

The National Centre for Contemporary Arts is designed as a vertical Museum at the centre of Khodynskoe Pole, a former airfield in Moscow. The verticality and profile of the cantilevered galleries gives the Museum a presence in the skyline allowing the museum to rise above the vast horizontal bulk of the adjacent Aviapark shopping centre.

The verticality concentrates the activities on the ground to create an intensity at a single point in this vast space. Given the scale and relative sparsenesss of activities in the area, the aim is to concentrate the flow of people to generate an excitement and energy which can then expand into other areas as the park develops.

The exhibition spaces are designed as a series of stacked galleries allowing people to either visit a particular gallery of interest or browse through the entire collection. The advantage of the vertical organisation is that galleries are quickly accessible, allowing one to go straight to a single floor without moving horizontally though layers of gallery.

The landscape proposal responds to the scale of the park, and to its history as an airfield. The Runways are retained as elements of intensity and activity while the remaining areas are conceived of as a naturalistic landscape. Amongst the development, on the edge of this large city, an intense natural environment creates a space apart from the everyday world of apartments and cities. The Runways are an the exception to this intense nature, becoming home to a new range of activities: ice rinks, formal flower gardens, and skateboard areas. • The organisational strategy is driven by the following considerations • Locating the exhibition spaces as a destination at the top of the Building • Utilising the NCCA building to make a focal point of activities on the ground floor • Creating an awareness of all of the Museum’s activities for the visitor

As with any travel plan, the main issue is how easily and quickly one can navigate the building; an escalator leads from the foyer to the exhibition, travelling through the storage workshop and admin areas. The escalator cuts through the ‘working museum’ as if through archaeological layers, viewing the ‘back story’ of the exhibition. The NCCA is situated at a nexus, a vertical core linking Park, Aviapark and Museum. Exhibition spaces are designed as flexible space, as trays of varying sizes and heights which can accommodate a variety of exhibitions. The Architect provides the infrastructure, the curators and artists make the Museum.

Fact sheet


Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation




Design Development


Associate Architect




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