Design unveiled for Latvia's first art museum for more than 100 years

The Latvian Ministry of Culture has announced plans to move forward with its first museum of contemporary art, designed by Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

The 16,000m2 museum, to be built in the port city of Riga, will be Latvia's first museum of art in more than 100 years.The museum will host seminars, concerts and theatrical performances, in addition to housing international exhibitions and a permanent collection of contemporary Baltic art.

The design unveiled by OMA preserves and incorporates many original features of the existing building, a former power plant. A newly constructed 4,000 m2 exhibition hall will wrap the perimeter of the old building, while other museum functions such as the library, lecture hall, cafe, administration, and artist workshops will be contained inside the original structure which dates back to 1905.

'We embed the old in new architecture and organise the public program related to the new so that the old is always present but the art is not a prisoner of it.' states OMA founder and partner Rem Koolhaas, explaining the decision to house more functional aspects of the program inside the existing power plant.

The museum is part of a larger cultural initiative which includes a concert hall and national library.

The museum is OMA's second project in Latvia. In early 2006 the office was commissioned by the Latvian government to design a masterplan of Riga's port area.

The museum is expected to open in 2011.