Children’s museum opens inside David Adjaye’s Sugar Hill housing in Harlem

Murals and brightly covered paintwork cover the walls of a children’s art museum that has now opened on the lower floors of the David Adjaye-designed Sugar Hill housing complex in Harlem, New York (+ slideshow).

Adjaye‘s Sugar Hill development provides 124 affordable housing units on its upper floors and a preschool facilities for 100 infants – both of which opened last year.

A children’s art museum in the base of the building opened this weekend, marking the final stage in the project’s phased delivery.

“I am very excited to see the Sugar Hill Museum open to the public this week,”said Adjaye. “It represents the completion of this building and captures the spirit of the project’s aspiration to reinvent the social housing model.”

The Sugar Hill Museum occupies the lower levels of the 13-storey block, which is characterised by an embossed sawtooth facade.

Art workshops and storytelling sessions will run concurrently with the museum’s year-long programme, which opens with an exhibition of works by mixed-media artists David Shrobe and Saya Woolfalk.

“I am thrilled to see this wonderful first exhibition illuminate not only the galleries but the whole neighbourhood,” added the architect, who spoke to Dezeen about architecture’s social responsibility earlier this year. “This is the moment when the building really comes to life.”

Murals and brightly coloured paintwork decorate the walls of the museum, which has polished concrete floors and timber seating areas.

A glazed courtyard provides a play area and long skylights naturally illuminate the basement spaces.

The building stands on West 155th Street at the intersection of the traditionally African-American community in Harlem and the Latino neighbourhoods of Washington Heights.

When the project broke ground in summer 2012, a ceremony to mark the occasion was attended by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will shortly be moving his media empire into Norman Foster-designed premises in the City of London.

David Adjaye is also currently designing a new home for New York’s Studio Museum, an art institution in Harlem that promotes artists of African descent. His building for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC is set to open later this year.

The Tanzanian-born architect has also recently unveiled plans for a red concrete art museum in Texas and a £600 million scheme in Piccadilly, near the firm’s London offices.

Photography is by Wade Zimmerman.

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