Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Vilnius
by Zaha Hadid Architects



Zaha Hadid Architects have won a competition to design the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania.


The competition was part of a feasibility study by the Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia.


Architects Daniel Libeskind and Massimiliano Fuksas also submitted proposals.


All three submissions will be on display at the exhibition Imagining the Future: Design Proposals for a New Museum in Vilnius at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius from today until the end of June.

Here's some information from Zaha Hadid Architects:


Zaha Hadid Architects announce the winning design for the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania

Zaha Hadid Architects are delighted to announce the winning design for a new museum and cultural centre in Vilnius. The new centre for international art will house pieces from collections of both the New York based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the St. Petersburg based State Hermitage Museum.


A six member jury including Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky and Guggenheim Director Thomas Krens awarded the project to Zaha Hadid Architects at a press conference in Vilnius this morning. The international competition for the project was between Zaha Hadid Architects, Studio Daniel Libeskind and Studio Fuksas.

“I am delighted to be working in Vilnius on the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum” states Hadid. “The city will be the European Capital of Culture in 2009 and has a long history of art patronage. With such an interest in the arts, Vilnius will continue to develop as a cultural centre where the connection between culture and public life is critical. This museum will be a place where you can experiment with the idea of galleries, spatial complexity and movement.”

The museums sculptural volume is designed along Zaha Hadid’s characteristic conceptual terms of fluidity, velocity and lightness. The building appears like a mystical object floating above the extensive artificial landscape strip, seemingly defying gravity by exposing dramatic undercuts towards the surrounding entrance plazas. Large activated green fields flow around the museums sculptural mass, underlining its enigmatic presence with curvilinear lines echoing the elongated contours of the building. Contrasting with the vertical business district skyline it is a manifestation of Vilnius’ new cultural significance.

A glossy metallic building envelope registers the underlying main programmatic units which are articulated as inlays within the compact overall form. The sub volumes are expressed through folds and protrusions in the facades modulation, creating multiple ways of reading the building as a whole that is constituted by its integral parts. These parts reflect the various institutions and bodies that are combined within the museum, such as the Hermitage, the Guggenheim as well as the city of Vilnius. In the interior a canyon like air space allows for architecturally refined communication and circulation spaces mirroring the Fluxus spirit of informality and vivacity surrounding art.

Through manipulations of the ground at the riverfront, towards the park and the bridge, different levels are made accessible. An intensification of public life at the river is our aim. The positioning of the building on the riverbanks, respectively the cities edge, creates a strong sense of place within Vilnius.

The exterior spaces are modulated landscape formations creating several imprints or plinths upon which various activities and performances can take place. Large Stairs at the promenade might function as outside auditorium spaces for summer screening etc. The surrounding landscape is a continuation of the internal landscape connecting museum Lobby with its surrounding on several levels. The aim is again an intensification of public and cultural life on the museum plaza and the museum promenade.

Zaha Hadid’s design points towards a future architectural language matching the cultural aims of the new Hermitage Guggenheim Vilnius Project. It is part of an innovative research trajectory within ZHA that embraces latest digital design technology and digital fabrication methods. The application of advanced digital technology throughout the course of the project enables a seamless workflow from the fluid shapes of the drawing board to the realization process. An innovative architectural language meets new technologies in order to articulate this project’s complexities. By means of ZHA’s characteristic dynamic acceleration curves and sculpted surface modulations the design expresses the project’s vision coherently.

An object reminiscent of a rough diamond shape is placed on the Neris river’s edge. The enigmatic building appears mystically floating above an extensive landscape strip. Large fi elds fl ow around the museums sculptural mass, underlining its presence with curvy- linear lines echoing the volumes contours. As a counterpart to the vertical structures of the northern business skyline, the Museum stretches out horizontally. Its dynamic elongated figure contrasts with the tower structures - a manifestation of this new cultural highlight named the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum.

It contains the three main programmatic units which are articulated as inlays within the compact overall envelope. The sub volumes are expressed through folds and protrusions in the envelopes modulation, creating multiple ways of reading the building as a whole that is constituted by its integral parts. These parts reflect the various institutions and bodies that are combined within the museum, such as the Hermitage, the Guggenheim as well as the city of Vilnius. The sub volumes leave canyon like air space in between allowing for architecturally refined communication and circulation spaces.

Through manipulations of the ground at the riverfront, towards the park and the bridge, different levels are made accessible. An intensification of public life at the river is our aim. The occupation of the cities edge creates a strong sense of place and within Vilnius.

Posted on Thursday April 10th 2008 at 1:53 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • paul

    BB King – There are no subdivision surfaces in Rhino. :-)

  • roadkill

    i like the shoes the woman in the red dress wears….

  • lia

    ….at the end of the day we are all just a happy bunch of emotion loaded architects that love to talk! cheers!! let’s praise our passion for architecture!

    by the way, i guess most of the sleekyness derives from the way they present the building in the renders, no? i am sure the finished product/building will be a great space to be in, no?! but i have to agree with the missing landscape feeling.. not so much in there..

    And yeah.. what the h*** … subdivision in rhino!!? its great we got some specialists that claim to know all about the way this is modelled, keep it up and criticize on a top level!

    peace guys! keep the archi-love up!


    like the formalistic experiments of zaha, allthough she used to focus more on light, perspective, etc in the past (at least to my opinion, that’s why I liked her work so much..)
    anyway, I’m looking forward to see a museum-design that focuses on the content of ‘what a museum can be these days’, rather than just ‘cool’ spaces which ignore the art-pieces and the way a museum wants us to look at/experience the art..
    a museum can be much more than a cool building, but no-one seems to care about that..


    by the way: how do they make sch a big windows??

  • Chris

    I completely agree with abyssinian and Damfak:

    An art gallery is not just a place to hang art – its also a place to INSPIRE art. I think this building will achieve both very well in years to come, even if its not something ‘ground breaking’

  • Tired

    I’ve lost faith in architecture commentary thanks to you all.

  • Nanny

    There are subdivs in the new rhino beta version I’m testing.

  • well

    there will never be professional comments on blogs because professional people don’t have the time to write comments on blogs. ;-)

  • Pernalonga

    Being one of the lucky few Zaha Hadid Architects who actually designed this project, I must confess I find it quite amazing and definitely entertaining to see how so many people consider themselves capable of judging a building based on only a few images!!

    I hope we at ZHA soon get the opportunity to prove the intricate qualities of our beauty by realizing this ground-breaking project in wonderful Lithuania. Until that moment however – and before you all start a blog fight – I urge all of you cynics to go visit the exhibition in Vilnius to study the competition entries thoroughly.

    Afterwards we’re all ears!! :-)

    p.s. There is also T-splines in Rhino.

  • joe

    Pernalonga- i used to work at zahas as did just about every young architect in london. we all know how it works. you are kidding yourself if you think it was concieved by patrick et al as anything other than a few slick images. she doesnt get published in every media on the planet because her projects are intellegent, intricate, subtle and considered; they are empty graphic icons.

  • joe

    and dezeen why do you keep publishing every derivative mediocre project that comes out of that office. surely that blog space could be given to someone doing something new, trying to build their reputation, busting their ass fighting for commisons.

  • el pelu

    EW !

  • frendofriend

    my first criticism goes against the fact of critisicising the architect, her reputation fashionism and not really trying to make a comperativ analysis among competition entries. this was a competition and among the 3 entrants beyond the visual iconic, fashion…call it waht you like….image that architects have produced the winning project delivers by far the most comprehensiv interior space (please look at the videos)…certainly of lanquage you might dislike because of oversaturation,..but significantly convincing….among the 3…beyond that i would argue that yes this museum will not compete against wright, or aalto…but thats another discussion.Nice work.

  • curvaceous building as always from Hadid…

  • I never get bored seeing new innovation in architecture designs by zaha hadid

  • punymeier

    looks like the dream works of one John Zachary DeLorean!

  • Danny

    i think the reason the buildings of these ‘starchitects’ recieve so much negative feedback is that create a recognisable ‘brand’ -the aesthetic ideas of an INDIVIDUAL imposed on society.Apparently their latest whim transends different sites, cultures, functions and climates.

  • AMS

    very nice project

  • andi

    i agree with AMS when i look at the other two. At least this one has a shape. Libeskinds’ laks identity and Fuksas’ looks like an unsuccesful heart transplant.

  • minh

    do some ridiculous things and be famous rather than create old-fashioned stuffs and nobody will know you. New stuffs always get criticisms. Architecture is not exactly like mathematics but it’s like everything :mathematics, art, poet. It can be judged it’s true or false. It’s..just architecture.

  • Joaquin

    Frankly, Libeskind’s and Fuksas’s aren’t just bad Zaha-esque style. They both illustrate well their own style. I do interest in Hadid’s design, but for this one, I have to tell that the other two do win in my opinion. Why?

    Hadid’s museum here ignores totally the contextual fabric and how to integrate the surroundings/merging them with the building. And as intriguing the piece is, it is not as a landmark as Gehry’s Bilbao Museum to stand upright as a sculpture. (And also, Gehry paid attention to the back street facade of that museum, and designed quite formally to leave that street some ‘air’). This project is not architecture, it is more like a vehicle–a nice super car apark in the midst of nowhere.

  • Eva

    I like Hadid’s interiors, not she is not a great architect I am afraid.
    It is also sad that the design does not reflect Vilnius, it’s green, vivid nature as well as it’s scale and fragility. The design by Hadid rather looks like a large eel or similar fish that has a cyclopean eye. I am afraid it does not look like the building that I will be proud seeing or showing in my hometown.

  • there are a lot of architects who have constructed also ten times more buildings, all good buildings, square buildings, with maybe sometimes a different size for the windows thus referring in a ver subtle way to …bla bla bla…. and no one ever discussed them.
    No-one, apart -probably- from all these negative people, with all their negative reactions, I see here on this site.
    Reading all this negativeness, also repeating and repeating themselves…. I have to force myself from not becoming sad myself. Bad I just need 1 look again at this enormous whale for Vilnius and I smile again…
    Make another 100 buildings Zaha! Make these tight asses jealous!

  • El Greco

    Can Zaha Hadid’s office please redesign their website!

    On another note, I do like a lot of Hadid’s work. But I can’t say this is my favorite project. It seems to be trying too hard… pleated ribbon skylights, field of asymmetric windows, giant cyclops eye, etc.

    I’m sure there is some programmatic defense carefully constructed for all these disparate elements but a successful resolution of program, site and design can be more elegant and she’s done this many times. Perhaps the office should seek a little more refinement while maintaining the “Intergalactic Alien Headquarters” aesthetic they are honing.

    Regarding the tornado of vitriol on Dezeen: knock yourselves out kids! It’s great fun to read the scathing remarks no matter how uninformed. After all, this is architecture criticism, not group therapy.

  • David

    I actually prefer Libeskind’s design much more, most prob because it has TONS of more green that the eel and heart transplant designs.

  • Asrul Naim


  • ali

    hello .
    We can design our mind.
    but we don’t think for all of mind & work by some this.
    Are you can think for all of this massage.

  • Gabs

    Take a look at the video on YouTube, the interiors are VERY interesting, there are light incidence studies, and it shows how program is solved through the interiors.

  • Mike

    On the plus side, at least Libeskind was made to look like the turd he is by losing another competition.

    It cracks me up every time I remember that this clown had to hire Alex Gorlin to design his little apartment in Manhattan. If that doesn’t tell you that Ttudio Libeskind is full of brainless #D CAD Monkeys with no other skills,m I don’t know what will. What a bunch of pretentious idiots they are!

  • kos

    Generally I like most of ZHA buildings. But are all those buildings really zaha?

    hadid’s first unique buildings came out of her Malevich inspired paintings. The buildings of that period aren’t blob-like.

    The last years (after the building of science center in wolfsburg), hadid style has evolved to the modelling of these G3 curvature surfaces.

    Hadid had stopped making paintings for her projects as long as these spaces cannot be conceived in the 2d canvas. All these aesthetic shapes come out of software modelling packages. She had confess several times that she doesn’t use the computer. So, she is something less than a maestro.

    Of course, i do not expect to design all the projects in detail. Also i know that the same thing happens in most of the big design studios…
    But other figures (even less computationally progressive) such as Ben Van Berkel, know how to use 3ds max or Topsolid even if they do not use it in everyday workflow. Undoubtly the computer is an integral part in the process of the so called “liquid” architecture.

    After all, do all these designs belong to zaha?
    Is zaha such a pioneer in experimental architecture any more?

    There are many small firms that practice computational architecture worldwide and their principals generally know how to use this machine.

    This is the real revolution of software in architecture…

  • nobody

    i liked it, the shape itself its inspiring and seems futuristic in a way. But i think i liked the proposal that daniel libeskind did , its not just a design, but it has that sort of poetic flow to it. and i think a building should carries a certain character that activates emotions to ppl who actually use that building, more over its an art musuem….art is always emotionally moving.

  • old house

    “Sad thing is that these cities all think they’re getting a unique piece or architecture when in actual fact it’s just another expensive blob produced by a factory”
    well I think taht house whwrw I live looks the same as house in some italian city – the same 4 facades and corners-Zaha makes something diferent.

  • ArAc

    Striking aesthetics but unfortunately ephemeral; in 20 years time will look rubbish… Zaha overvalues the function of the “looks”… which is always related to vogue, just like clothing (of the developed world). Who knows what is the true personality of this building… ?

  • check this out!

    Indeed there were so many off branches to interpreting modernism by the end of the 20th Century, the tempo of change was so swift that minds had difficulty keeping pace with its artists and scientist. But the spirit behind ‘modernism’ still remains today. The idea that modern materials, technology and innovations opens up new possibilities and freedom in how we build our buildings, live our lives continues to play center stage our society today. We are a society that is fundamentally optimistic and believes in progressiveness. And this is all remnants we inherited from the modernism.

  • ArAc

    I am afraid that the development of technology has lost its purpose long time ago… Nevertheless, “Form Follows function” is a very wise principle that the ultimate architect (nature), never forgets.

  • labode

    i just think all evry1 as said is just due to their love for architecture n d fear dat d architecture we all love,dream n adore shud nt just b rule by graphics n some pple tryin2 play wiv shape bt instead shud b somtin dat comes frm within,something dat is don coz of d love n wot architecture really stands 4. bt frm my point of view i feel the daniel libeskind design had more concept, human consideratn,environmental consideratn n had d basis of architecture in hear. as much as i will try nt 2 damage anyones idea coz am sure it took evry architect dat performd in dis project great deal of work 2 come by their various designs all i wud say is LoNG LIVE DECONSTRUCTIVSM FORM OF ARCHITECTURE