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Zaha Hadid Architects

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Reina Sofia Museum Extension

  • Madrid, Spain
  • 1999 – TBC
  • Reina Sofia Museum
  • Competition / Research

A dynamic counterpoint to the serene Sabatini Building, a new visual identity for the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, instantly recognisable like the objects it will contain: contemporary, distinctive and vivid in its individuality. A new stage for future exhibitions, offering a palette of choice in both size and typology.


The intention was to create an extension of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, a building of contrast, a new exhibition stage that is no longer dictated by historic parameters of uniform heights and plans.

The function of the gallery is to exhibit works of art and to address an audience. The argument that there is one best way to exhibit art – the most neutral way – was exploded in the 1970’s with the critique of the white cube, insofar as modernism had conceived of white surfaces and spaces as inherently neutral, and their aesthetic experience disinterested, so that the observer perceives only the work and as little as possible of anything else.

The same argument dominated discussion of light conditions, concluding that these were to approximate to a neutral point, whether achieved by natural or artificial means, so that nothing from the setting interfered with the object.

From that perspective, the object and its integrity called forth a designed vacuum. The critique of the white cube, however, suggested that this was not possible – that there was no such thing as spatial neutrality and that no architectural thing created ‘no setting’.

At this point, one moves to the idea of a constructive pluralism – the notion that there is no ‘one best way’ to exhibit an object, but in fact many ways.

The architect’s responsibility in designing the museum is to understand its functional requirements and provide spaces that best meet them – namely, to support a variety of possible ways to showcase art and offer spaces to a wide audience of visitors.




Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Team

Sonia Villaseca, Jorge Ortega, Eddie Can, Paola Cattarin, Christos Passas, Chris Dopheide, Bergendy Cooke, Jee-Eun Lee, Caroline Voet, Oliver Domeisen, David Gomersall, Electra Mikelides

Structural / Services

Ove Arup & Partners

Cost / QS

Davis Langdon


Bruce McAllister


Edward Woodman