Showing – Alternative design for museums


he winners of the fourth Non Architecture competition ( “Showing – Alternative design for museums”  unveiled, showing some absolutely innovative concepts for sport facilities designs.

This was the fourth of a series of nine competitions, oriented at pushing architects and designers to rethink traditional architectural typologies. In this case museums – intended as a building or a group of structures designed in order for works of art, scientific specimens, or other objects of permanent value are kept and displayed – have been reinterpreted by participants from all around the world. The challenge was to develop an unconventional design for a building to make, with absolute freedom of location, scale and program dimensioning.

The Jury, composed by Hector Garcia-Castrillo, Architect, BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group, William Lewis, Associate, RA, SHoP Architects and Chiara Tonelli, Professor of Architecture, Roma Tre University selected 3 winners and 9 honorable mentions from more than 160 subscribers.

The winning projects showed a variety of approaches, from extremely visionaries solutions, to more practical and business oriented strategies, going from time traveling journeys to mental museums, from cities that became it’s own museum to temporary collective memories.

Winner: “Time Travel” / Samuel Schubert

“Berlin, 2020: Another time capsule opens its gates and reveals an abandoned exhibition”, a possible title for a future newspaper article related to the project. The idea is quite simple: A building that functions like an eternal architectural clockwork and permanently rotates.

Winner: “I” / Massotte Julien, Pitruzzella Jordan

Imagination is the real museum. Isn’t the space of current museums the limit of imagination ? A place where you do not have the choice to see what you want, and in which you wander, full of hope, expecting to find something that will transcend you just for a moment. What if this experience becomes unlimited ? Without any notion of space. Without any concept of time. Just focusing on your own emotion.

Winner: “Shrine of the ordinary behind the extraordinary” / Inci Lize Ogun

Welcome to the Shrine of the ordinary behind the extraordinary. Our exhibition is held from a historical critique, who posesses the common objects of common people that were involved the big masterpieces, or eventually even witnesses that know personally the people narrated.

Honorable mention: “Guerrilla Bubble Museum” /  Joongseob Jeon, Heejin Kim 

The “Guerrilla Bubble Museum: GBM” curate a exhibition by database system including what subject and location public want. Bubble Blowing Drone which is made for making Bubble Museum wherever will come up to where public demand is and make a temporary museum in the city.

Honorable mention: “The Scroll Must Go On” / Vittoria Bonini, Paolo Galelli Alessio Minetto

Nine new Muses conquer Parnassus every three seconds. The law of scroll and tap shapes the museum. And you are in charge.

Honorable mention: “As long as it takes” / Ben David Mehigan

Taking a wide perspective of what we define as art, the proposal is made up of a series of enclosed studios, workshops and creative spaces, frozen in time and contained within a living pavilion.

Honorable mention: “Exhibit: City” / Huijing Zheng, Sabrina Yuen, Chenming Jiang, Yuan Wang 

Exhibit: City turns the entire urban city into a museum. Departing from the idea of a single monumental museum, multiple buildings within the city become activated and opened to become museum exhibits.

Honorable mention: “Public Domain” / Jana Culek

Public Domain proposes a system that disrupts the common way of viewing art. A system in which one can borrow a piece of art and admire it for a limited amount of time in their own home.

Honorable mention: “Synecdoche” / Gabriel García, Juan Carlos Moreno, Saúl Yuncoxar

An itinerant museum that can be adapted by different agents, whose collection is perpetually changing. The heritage of the museum of ordinary life is the domestic landscape. It is manifested in the intimate experience that is recognizing each other as intuitively creative entities.

Honorable mention: “Muse Ummm” / Jana Alaraj,

Muse-Ummm is unsettled museum located in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. It aims to create spaces in which new trajectories of the future can be conceived in refugee camps, by proposing simple structures and using duplicate and rotate method to build the museum multifunctional and nomadic spaces.

Honorable mention: “X” / Idan Sidi Hauben

Proposing a journey to discover the art. My goal is to create a path, a labyrinth without walls. Wandering with a map, to find the unknown. You don’t know what will you discover and which work of art you will see. The paths will lead the viewer to the work. The search will become an adventure.

Honorable mention: “The Garden of Forking Paths” / Poyun Chang

The Garden of Forking Paths refers to Jorge Luis Borges’ brilliant short story of the same name. The Garden of Forking Paths can be seen as a museum without serious exhibition spaces. But unlike any museums, people don’t need to worry about gaining education, studying seriously of the “exhibits” here; instead, it is a place to relax where people live their lives.


What is your criteria when judging the individual projects?

First we would like to clarify that we do not personally judge the winning projects. We work as an editorial team, preselecting 50 finalists that will be published in our book. Among the finalists, the invited jurors award the winning prizes and honourable mentions.

Regarding the criteria, we base our approach on three basic parameters: Innovation and originality, feasibility and market relevance, representation and communication. The same parameters are also shared with the jury to inform their evaluation.

What defined the standard format through which you ask people to articulate their proposals? Do you see this as constricting or liberating?  

The competitions were more a consequence than an actual goal. In our first book “Sleeping – Alternative Designs for Hotels” we wrote an editorial explaining the concept behind Non Architecture. The main goal is to involve as many people as possible in an open source research. The competitions are just a way to challenge participants and push them to do their best. Some sort of gamification of the research.

Therefore the products we require to the participants have to be flexible and enhance creativity, rather than limit it. Basing on this principle, we decided to ask just for three images and a text to represent each concept. An in addition, we don’t provide any precise location or limit for scale of the concepts proposed. We feel it maximizes freedom and creativity in the process and so far it seemed to be working quite well.

If you could give three pieces of advise to your architects on the role of representation within the competition what would these be? 

Number one, keep it simple. Make drawings capable of communicate your main concept immediately. Don’t make your drawings too messy or too full.

Number two, make it beautiful. Beautiful ideas deserve beautiful representation (not easy, we know).

Number three, stop rendering. Not many people know how to render and how to edit their renders in a beautiful way. It is hard and it takes time. Luckily, nowadays there numerous illustration styles which are commonly used for architecture and design and they are much more personal.

I’ll give also a fourth, try be original. Try to find a storytelling that suits your concept and modify the graphic language to fit your personality. Make your design immediately identifiable. It’s good to learn from others, but it is also necessary to experiment and push forward the boundaries of representation.

How important is the drawing of a project in relation to the concept it explores? How do you judge these together and/or separately? 

It’s hard to separate them. I’d like to believe that if an idea it’s good, also the representation will follow. The submissions we received in the past years seemed to confirm it.

Aside form exploring the book as medium which collects the proposal are you thinking of something else in the future? Is an exhibition on your radar? What are the next steps?

We don’t really see an exhibition as a next step, but more as a complementary medium. We are considering organizing one. In the end, our books are catalogues of ideas, that could also be rearranged in a different medium, without acquiring any additional value.

Our real goal and the natural next step would be translating the most interesting concepts submitted into actual pilot projects. It is a much more complex process but that’s what we are working on at the moment.