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When the headquarters of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art were relocated from the Bahmetyevsky Bus Garage to a late 19th-century building in Gorky Park, the architects at Form Bureau discovered that the ‘seemingly anonymous’ building had already undergone a series of diverse reinventions. Serving stints as a shipyard, bathhouse, WWII trophy museum, Soviet Era pavilion for the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, cinema, and sanitary ceramics store, the building became an architectural patchwork segmented between multiple small businesses in the 1990s.

The local architectural studio opted to peel away the most recent reconstructions of this architectural palimpsest to reveal the core structure, opening up the space. The original porthole windows have been restored, the floor plan of the cinema adapted to the needs of the various Garage Museum departments, and the brickwork and arches of the shipyard exposed. Even the scars of history are celebrated, traces of repairs left visible in the walls as a collage of the building’s past roles.

The rough texture of the walls is juxtaposed with the clean lines and contemporary colours of the furniture and fittings. Opening and closing the space at once, islands of desks are left in the open to encourage communication and collaboration, while private office spaces and formal meeting areas are delineated with glass walls and wooden frames. In designing the Garage Museum headquarters, Form Bureau reinterprets the historic significance of a multi-layered building, stripping away the unwanted elements of the past for a contemporary context.

Designed by Form Bureau
Photography by Yuri Palmin

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