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Competition: Lima Art Museum contemporary art wing


The Lima Art Museum (MALI) has launched an open design competition for a $15 million USD contemporary art wing (Deadline: 30 June)

Backed by the Peruvian capital’s municipal government, the contest seeks anonymous proposals for a submerged 6,000m² extension to the museum.

The museum, located inside Lima’s Exposition Palace, documents around 3,000 years of Peruvian history ranging from pre-Columbian textiles and pottery to mid-20th-century painting.

The extension will host items from the gallery’s large contemporary art collection, which is currently in storage owing to space limitations.

The brief reads: ‘Our goal is to establish the MALI as a new civic and cultural platform in the city, as well as a referent for future competitions regarding the design of public spaces in Lima.’

The palace was the centrepiece of the 1872 Lima International Exhibition, which celebrated 50 years of Peruvian independence. Today it is one of several high-profile cultural institutions that occupy the site now known as the Park of the Exposition.



Lima Art Museum contest site

The three-storey submerged extension will be constructed west of the palace on the site of an existing small amphitheatre and various kiosks. The new wing will feature a library, gallery spaces, classrooms, workshops and a café.

The breif also asks for a surface-level plaza, a connection to a planned future metro station, and a landscape proposal for the site.

‘Entries should also include the MALI’s current entrance lobby, cafeteria, library and shop as part of the extended site,’ it says. ‘This is to ensure that the proposals consider how the new wing might relate to the museum’s entrance sequence.’

Proposals should furthermore include a long-term vision for the wider Exposition Park, improving pedestrian movement, recreational facilities, shaded green areas and connections to the museum.

The project – also supported by Metro de Lima Line 2 and developer Centenario – aims to raise the standard of public spaces and development in the local area and wider city, which last held an international contest 30 years ago.

Construction of the fully automated Metro de Lima Line 2 started two years ago and will include a new subterranean station north-west of the museum and park.

Located near the busy Plaza Grau interchange, the new station is expected to be one of the busiest in the network with a daily footfall of 60,000 passengers.

Designs should be flexible enough to incorporate the future station, which is still in the design stage and due to start on site in 2018.

Participating teams in the  two-stage contest must demonstrate a proven track record of delivering similar large-scale projects. Partnerships between local and international studios are encouraged. 

Submissions may include up to 20 A3 landscape boards featuring plans, views, circulation diagrams and a short project description. Physical models are optional.

Judges include Tate Modern director Chris Dercon, MALI president Juan Carlos Verme, and author and Pritzker Prize juror and architectural curator Kristin Feireiss.

Three finalists will each receive around $10,000 USD to develop more detailed designs ahead of a presentation to the jury. The winner – set to be announced on 11 July – will receive a fee worth around 8 per cent of the construction costs.

How to apply


Registration 3 June, applications 11pm local time (UTC-5) on 30 June

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

V&A Exhibition Road Building Project case study: Q&A with Amanda Levete

The principal of AL_A discusses how the practice designed a submerged extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

AL_A principal

AL_A principal

Source: Image by Peter Guenzel

Amanda Levete

How did your V&A extension respond to its immediate context and improve connections to the surrounding area?

The project is a response to the changes to Exhibition Road that have already significantly increased the number of pedestrians who use it and are part of a more ambitious intention: to make Exhibition Road a place where culture and learning are accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Our first move was to negotiate a relationship between the museum and street that does not exist today, by creating a physical permeability between the two. A response that finds the right balance between heritage and accessibility becomes necessary—the Aston Webb screen no longer serves to hide but to reveal. It is this visual openness that encourages people to enter, but maintains that important notion of a threshold.

Beyond is a courtyard that creates a new public place and destination for events, exhibitions and, above all, for appropriation by the public.



Source: Image by AL_A

AL_A’s V&A Exhibition Road Building Project

What material, structural, planning and other techniques for submerged structures are available to architects?

There is a paradox built into both the V&A Exhibition Road and the MALI projects: they are schemes that revolve around vast new gallery spaces, but ones that are seemingly hidden below ground.

At the V&A, we were guided by the principle of making visible the invisible. The structural form and geometry of the gallery ceiling seeps through to the pattern of the porcelain courtyard above, giving a palpable expression of the exhibition space below. We wanted the visitor to be conscious of the energy and rhythm of the gallery directly beneath their feet. In turn, the structural solution of the ceilings generates the paving pattern of the courtyard, becoming a subtle but readable expression of what is below.



Source: Image by AL_A

AL_A’s V&A Exhibition Road Building Project

The descent to the gallery should be celebrated as an important part of the visitor’s journey. At the V&A, this is woven into the fabric of the museum and frame otherwise-impossible views of the fine facades of the existing historic buildings. Visitors are drawn down by natural light, lessening until reaching the bottom where a dramatic pool of daylight appears seemingly magically so far underground. We also introduced an oculus to bring daylight into the gallery and set up views between the courtyard above and the exhibition space below.

The project has at its heart a hyper-flexible gallery space for the V&A’s world-class programme of temporary exhibitions. So we wanted a column-free space, which we achieved with a folded plate structure that spans 38m uninterrupted and soars over the visitor despite being underground.

How might a single building such as this act as a springboard for improving liveability and openness across Lima?

Designing a good building is hard enough without having the burden of needing it to act as a springboard for improving liveability and openness across Lima.

Nevertheless, national institutions are vital to understanding our past and influencing our futures. They define our cultural position, adapting to and reflecting society back to itself. Museums are part of the physical fabric that binds together our nations and their collective memories.

Perhaps this project will encourage people to visit the Lima Art Museum, to learn about the stories of Peru that are constantly being reshaped on the streets of the city and reflected in its contemporary art, and this will inspire them to look again at ideas of openness and liveability.



Source: Image by AL_A

April 2015: AL_A’s V&A Exhibition Road Building Project



Source: Image by AL_A

September 2015: AL_A’s V&A Exhibition Road Building Project