The V-A-C Foundation has unveiled the first designs for its planned Moscow contemporary art centre in a former power station. The foundation, established in 2009 by the Russian gas billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, commissioned the Italian architect Renzo Piano to develop the two-hectare site last year. Construction is due to start next January and is estimated to cost around €150m, says Antonio Belvedere, a partner at the firm.
The foundation will preserve the name and industrial architecture of the original power station, GES2. Located on the Moskva river in the city’s trendy Red October district, the building dates to the early 1900s and once supplied heat to the Kremlin. Its two tall chimneys will be retained and used for ventilation, Belvedere says.
A central nave measuring 100m long and 23m high—a little smaller than the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London—will form the “spine” of the 20,000 sq. m space. The architects plan to add a web-like floor plan of flexible galleries, with around 5,000 sq. m for permanent collection displays and temporary exhibitions. GES2 will be free of charge when it opens to the public in 2019.
The design also includes a pedestrian-friendly outdoor space that will host summer film screenings and a sculpture garden lined with birch trees. Teresa Iarocci Mavica, the director of the V-A-C Foundation, says a former vodka distillery on the site could become a block for artists’ residencies, in addition to 1,000 sq. m of classrooms for educational events in the main building.
GES2 will be a permanent Moscow base for the itinerant V-A-C, which has staged shows of Russian contemporary art in Moscow, Venice and London and sponsored the past three editions of the Venice Biennale. The building is set to dwarf Dasha Zhukova’s 5,400 sq. m Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in Gorky Park last year. But Mavica plays down any hint of rivalry between the two. “I think we should be complementary with Garage, working together to create a new platform for contemporary culture,” she says.