Architects: Sebastián Cruz, Alfredo Thiermann,
Rodrigo Perez de Arce, Vicente Justiniano
Team: Maite Raschillà
Location: Santiago, Chile
It is not art per se what is inaccessible, but it is usually an architecture what gets on the way. Belonging to an almost Kafkian set of protocols, filters, codes, barriers, and thresholds, traditionally the museum took objects away from the world while simultaneously reintroducing them back into it for the exclusive appreciation of a selected minority. The proposal for the Nuevo Museo aims to repurpose and recalibrate traditional spatial typologies aiming to break the historical barrier that severs the symbolic production from the general public. To be sure, the museum is no longer the beholder of objects alone, it is rather a mediator between events, environments, and people. Instead of acting as the gatekeeper of precious objects, the Nuevo Museo is conceived as a contact zone.
THE MUSEUM AS CONTACT ZONE
The Nuevo Museo is thought as a medium, fostering different degrees of contact and permeability between art, nature, and the public. Halfway between objects and infrastructure, four freestanding artefacts rest on thin legs on the existing park. Standing on the liberated ground, these glazed precincts offer a set of large and independent galleries suitable for art practices and exhibitions that are at odds with the “white cube” and “black box” formats. From its origins in Wunderkammer until being a recurring practice in the 1960s, vitrines have been used to select, classify and ultimately introduce objects that did not quite fit in the museum. Here, scaled-up vitrines are used in order to reintroduce—in the city—artefacts and events that have been long neglected to the public.
Before entering to the Museum, visitors incidentally encounter artworks and exhibitions while strolling through the park. The vitrines act as the first contact zone. They serve as the structural and programmatic support of the Museum by means of articulating a direct collision between artworks, vegetation, and passers-by ignoring or simply tarrying their entrance. The rest of the program housing exhibition galleries, educational rooms, cafeteria, and services are contained in a scaffolding resting five meters above the park. Liberating the ground, the intersection of Vierendeel trusses defines a systematic grid allowing flexible arrangements and rearrangements of the galleries meandering through the structural elements. The perimeter is defined by long enfilades reminiscent of the classic pinacotheque while the core contains black-box galleries suitable for media-based art and installations.
THE MUSEUM IN A FOREST
The vitrines lift up the body of the building resulting in an ample and shaded place at promenade level, the Open Gallery. The elevated corpus is screened off on its northern, western, and southern flanks by a gridded edge of poplars that shares the monumental scale and formality of the sycamore trees existing in the urban embankment. Enhancing the symbiosis between landscape and the building, the intensification of planting against the vitrines defines an exuberant herbaceous border that brings foliage against the museum objects. Sheltered behind trees the Museum void becomes an oasis. The institutional identity is singularly defined by the packed mass of foliage that responds dramatically to the seasonal variations. A carpet of yellow dead leaves greets the visitor in autumn. Flickering light and shadow interplays animate the grounds in summer.
Raising up to some thirty meters, the cluster of trees creates a landmark in the greater landscape, as a sort of a hinge between the highway junctions and the public park. In fostering diverse densities of shade and varied degrees of shelter the landscape strategy beckons spatial and environmental qualities. The great Museum undercroft offers a civic destination to visitors and strollers, a vast arena prone to be activated with impromptu as much as planned activities. By way of compensation, the proposed typology offers to the park a covered court at ground level—the Open Gallery—and a roof terrace—the Sky Gallery—for events with direct access from the eastern embankment, so that its inscription in the park results in a net gain in public space.
THE MUSEUM AS ALTERNATIVE HISTORIES
In museums the past performs in space. As a delayed resonating device, the permanent collection of the Nuevo Museo echoes bluntly the turbulent and agitated Latin American reality of the last century. Resistance is celebrated in many artefacts defining the collection, and they register aspects of our culture that perhaps no other storing device can hold. The building lifts the entire collection as an event worth of critical and public revision and interpretation. Walking at the level of the park, citizens will observe how the collection is administered, conserved, and stored. Through the vitrines, the archive and deposit become essential and active part of the theatrics of the Museum. The vitrines bring the artworks out to the park while linking them back to the interior program.
Five meters above the ground, a continuous perimetral enfilade weaves linearly through the collection. A pinwheel circuit offers syncopate connections between the enfilades and the galleries placed at the core of the plan. Through the enclosed vitrines, the continuous enfilade, and the syncopate pinwheel, the building offers diverse sequences and possibilities to experience, narrate, and reconstruct the ever-expanding collection. However, a significant number of artworks belonging to it were conceived and performed outside museums and galleries. By means of using the exterior surfaces of the vitrines as low-res public billboards, the Museum provides an exhibiting support for such art at an urban scale. Healing a historical wound, here art will finally be displayed as it was always meant: in the city, for the public.