The Hexagon

John Hill
22. November 2021
Photo: Screenshot

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow has unveiled SANAA's design that will revive The Hexagon, a building with six pavilions originally designed by Ivan Zholtovsky. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa explain their design in a short film.

Built in 1923 as the Machines and Tools (Mechanization) Pavilion of the Machine-Building Section at the First All-Russian Agricultural and Handicraft Industries Exhibition, the building designed by Ivan Zholtovsky was subsequently used as the main canteen for the Park of Culture and Leisure (aka Gorky Park), when it was given its Hexagon name. Later the building was repurposed for lemonade production, as a discotheque, and for other uses before being abandoned. In 1999, Moscow City Government declared The Hexagon a listed building.

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art was founded in 2008 at the Bakhmetievsky Bus Garage, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, and then moved to Gorky Park in 2015, into the previously derelict Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) restaurant from the 1960s, which was renovated by OMA – Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Garage is located just steps from The Hexagon, which will comprise the third large-scale adaptive reuse project for the institution and serve to "expand and clarify its architectural program," according to museum director Anton Belov. 

Before hearing from SANAA on the design, here is a short video visualizing The Hexagon's eventual transformation:

When we were invited to work on the Hexagon, we immediately began to think about whether we could somehow preserve the original layout and proportions. And whether we could create something that everyone would use. Garage has always had a strong focus on the architecture of public spaces and their history, and this is very much in line with our practice. The Hexagon has a particular charm and we have tried to retain that in our design.

Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA

And in this short film, Sejima and Nishizawa speak from their Tokyo office about their approach to reviving The Hexagon (be sure to turn on captions for English subtitles):

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