News & ideasArchitectural competition in Podgorica – Museum in the forest


20 / 05 / 2024

We are proud of another international cooperation of our company. Zabriskie was part of the international team at the recently concluded competition for the Museum of Contemporary Art and related cultural facilities in Podgorica, led by the renowned Japanese studio Junya Ishigami + Associates from Tokyo.

The Ministry of Spatial Planning, Urbanism and State Property held an international competition for the conceptual architectural design of the complex of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Park of Culture and Art with accompanying contents. The location is located on the site of the former Morača barracks and occupies a central position in the Capital City, and the facilities will be spread over a plot of 50,000 square meters, while the location together with the contact zone occupies more than 80,000 m2.

The invited participants in this competition were the real “stars” of world architecture – Junya Ishigami, Sou Fujimoto, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Snøhetta, and 48 works arrived within the stipulated time, of which 42 competition works entered the second round of consideration.

Zabriskie, together with his colleagues from ING Invest (Podgorica) were Local Partner of the international team led by the renowned Japanese bureau Junya Ishigami + Associates from Tokyo.

The team that participated in this project consists of:

Lead Architect: Junya.ishigami+associates

Lead Architect: Junya Ishigami. Partners: Masayuki Asami, Zenan Li. Project leader: Laura Pasquier. Design team: Javier Celaya, Kaito Yamauchi, Shodai Fujimoto, Hamed Sekou Toure, Song Anping, Zhijing Zhang, Gabriel Chatei, Ami Hida, Reiko Tsubota

Structure: Sato Structural Engineers Co.Ltd., 

Landscape Design: VOGT – Gunther Vogt, Amalia Bonsack, Jan Aeberhard 

MEP:Transsolar Klima Engineering – Matthias Schuler

Local architects: Zabriskie – Milka Gnjato, Vladimir Đorić, Ivica Marković, Martina Milošević, Dubravka Đumić (Cost consulting), ING Invest – Ilija Radulović, Davor Raspopović, Vladan Komnenić.


The main principles by which the competition design is defined are presented in the part of the description of the competition work:

Among the trees of the forest

“Our idea is to make Podgorica a city of the future, where myriad cultures and values mingle, and influence and respect each other.

To make such a city reality we have turned our attention to the stunning natural surroundings that distinguish the Montenegrin capital, with the intention of merging human activity into this environment.”

Coexistence of people and nature.

“In accordance with this philosophy, our aim would be to design a complex that symbolizes Podgorica’s aspiration to be a city of the future. The contemporary art museum, natural history museum, and house of architecture comprising the program on this occasion are all facilities for understanding the achievements of human intellect from an artistic point of view. The project would be designed as a base for showcasing the intellectual activities of Montenegro as art for a global audience, and as a symbol of coexistence between people and nature. In short, arranging art and nature on equal terms is conceptually the most important aspect of this project.

Specifically, the following operations would be undertaken:

-Where possible the existing tree cover on the site would be left in situ.

-Close analysis of the empty spaces between existing trees, to identify the distinguishing features and idiosyncrasies of the spaces in each location.

-A plan devised that inserts new architecture and landscapes in those in-between spaces.

-Rather than planning the architecture as large, strong single volumes, staying as low as possible and splitting structures into the smallest practical units, to give the architecture a presence closer to that of the existing trees.

-Multiple small, low volumes arranged unobtrusively among the trees appropriately for each program, connected by discreet paths.

-New landscapes to be inserted among the existing trees planned in a manner that doubly emphasizes the unique features of the existing forest, giving that existing forest a new lease of life.

– New forest created on the future site on the Contact Zone side, to expand this environment.Performing these operations will result in a seamless blending of architecture into the natural environment. The architecture itself will in turn act like a walking path through the newly reborn forest. Those visiting here would view art, enjoy a leisurely meal at a restaurant, read a book in the dappled shade of a tree, acquire a deeper understanding of nature among the plants in the botanical garden, all as if strolling among the trees of a lovely forest.

Local people would visit here routinely to experience nature and art as part of their day to day lives, while tourists would gain a sense of the future in the environment of a place fusing art and nature.”

Arranging art and nature on equal terms. 

“The idea is that as this place becomes a symbolic realization of this vision, the effect will extend to the whole of Podgorica, transforming the city itself into a city of the future. A future of coexistence between people and nature is the primary goal of this project.”

More information about the contest itself, submitted works and awards at the link.

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