Claesson Koivisto Rune pays tribute to Donald Judd with first US building

Claesson Koivisto Rune has designed an art gallery in Marfa, Texas, which is the Stockholm studio's first completed project in the USA.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Claesson Koivisto Rune's new building was designed to house the Inde/Jacobs gallery, which specialises in Minimalist artists.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The stark horizontal landscape and piercing light of Marfa particularly fascinated the late artist Donald Judd – considered a pioneer of Minimalism in the US.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

This lead him to make the small Texan city both his home and the setting for numerous site-specific installations in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, despite its remote location, Marfa remains a major art and design destination.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The new gallery is intended to continue Judd's legacy into the present. "You have to respect Judd without quoting him directly," said principal Eero Koivisto of the studio's design approach.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The building appears blocky and purposefully mundane from the street, both fitting in and standing apart from the vernacular structures that surround it.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Though it appears as one from the road, the complex is actually comprised of two separate buildings – a gallery and a residence for its owners – joined by a courtyard.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The studio used subtle sculptural moves to shape perceptions of light and space in the project.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

For example, the inner courtyard wall is canted slightly to make the space appear larger than it is.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Openings for the windows and doors on both white-coloured buildings vary just slightly, playing a trick on the eye.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The courtyard serves as both a sculpture garden for the gallery and an outdoor space for the residents.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

In addition to Judd, the architects cite the influence of the Mexican Modernist Luis Barragan in the design of the courtyard, which features a rocky planted area.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Inside the gallery, a skylight brings the bright Texas light into the white-walled space. "The light is very vertical, very strong," said Koivisto.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

Around the aperture, three partitions hang from the ceiling and extend nearly to the floor, creating a U-shaped volume.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The skylight enclosure provides additional wall space for mounting artworks while also modulating the light level.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

The art storage room is also treated as a detached object; its walls do not reach the ceiling.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune

This helps maintain the sense that the gallery building is a single large volume, while also providing varied spaces for display and back of house functions. "These two boxes are in dialogue," Koivisto said. "You don't see everything immediately."

Photography is by Åke E:son Lindman.

Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune
Floor plan – click for larger image
Inde/Jacobs gallery, Marfa by Claesson Koivisto Rune
Sections – click for larger image