The most beautiful arts and cultural museums, buildings and observatories that have opened in 2018

The most beautiful arts and cultural museums, buildings and observatories that have opened in 2018

Set the scene

Text: Aravin Sandran

What: Guardian Art Center
Where: Beijing, China
Architect: Büro Ole Scheeren
About: Built on the doorstep of Beijing's historic Forbidden City, the Guardian Art Center is a new hybrid cultural institution. On top of being the world's first custom-built auction house, it houses a museum, state-of-the-art conservation facilities, restaurants, a hotel, event spaces and a cultural lifestyle centre. "The Guardian Art Center is a lot more than just a museum," said Ole Scheeren, principal of Büro Ole Scheeren. "It's not a hermetic institution, but rather an acknowledgement of the hybrid state of contemporary culture. It is a Chinese puzzle of interlocking cultural spaces and public functions that fuse art and culture with events and lifestyle." 


What: AZULIK Uh May
Where: Francisco Uh May, Mexico
Founder: Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, better known as Roth
About: On the outskirts of beach town Tulum lies this one-of-a-kind arts complex that was inaugurated in November. Founded by a social entrepreneur as part of an eco-friendly luxury resort, its architecture and ethos are heavily inspired by its lush natural environment and indigenous Mayan culture. The venue boasts art gallery IK LAB run by Peggy Guggenheim's great-grandson Santiago Rumney, arts-and-crafts school Enchanting Transformation, fashion and design labs, recording studios as well as medical and healing facilities.


What: Saya Park
Where: North Gyeongsang province, South Korea
Architects: Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira
About: Sitting atop a hill surrounded by woodlands, Saya Park consists of a concrete art pavilion with a library, a chapel and a soon-to-be-completed observatory tower that will rise above the pine forest. Although currently vacant, the building's cavernous halls and natural overhead lighting coupled with seductively sweeping views of the natural landscape offer its visitors a meditative and introspective experience unlike any other in the country.

What: V&A Dundee Design Museum
Where: Dundee, Scotland
Architect: Kengo Kuma and Associates
About: Inspired by the breath-taking cliffs on its coastline, Scotland's first design museum stands on reclaimed land on the banks of the River Tay. The £80 million property will house over 300 design objects, all sourced from across the country, taken from V&A's extensive collection and borrowed from private collectors to communicate Scotland's outstanding achievements in the field. Taking over three and a half years to construct, the highly-anticipated venue is part of a £1 billion transformation of the Dundee waterfront.


What: Enoura Observatory  
Where: Odawara, Japan
Architect: Hiroshi Sugimoto, New Material Research Laboratory 
About: Designed by the famed artist and photographer, the cultural facility is situated in the Hakone mountains overlooking the picturesque Sagami Bay. A result of more than a decade of planning, the buildings reflect Japan's rich architectural history and respond to the movement of the sun. The venue comprises an art gallery, two stages, a tea house, several gates, a reception building and a precarious viewing platform. Most magical of all, it is angled to capture the winter solstice, which falls on 22 December this year.


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