Talking about space. (for a museum)

Kersten Geers
Booklet for the exhibition 'New acquisitions' by Sandra Gamarra Heshiki at Gallery Lucia de la Puente in Lima, Peru, 2006

PRODUCTORA's LiMac museum talks about space. As obvious as this may sound, this is not that evident today, and far from evident in architecture.

By deciding to organize the museum-space underground in a rectangular container, gradually chopped away by a set of columns with decreasing width, an important argument was made. The building is first an answer to its specific programmatic demand, and secondly a spatial type. At the same time, it is important to realize what the project is NOT about. The LIMAC carefully avoids discussing about the appearance of the museum and about how the museum represents itself. Of course, one might argue that this is inherent to the precise context in which the museum is incised. That context is unknown to me and I would argue that I consider it unimportant. Despite its possible response to the site, the project is developed from within. It consists of a conscious spatial typology only that deals only vaguely with the issue of its context. The LIMAC museum is designed as an underground entity. The project gives the impression of being rather dug out than implanted.

Again, here the emphasis is made on what is left open. The architecture becomes everything one takes away, everything one subtracts. Hence what is open, left over, becomes the crucial actor: the space of the museum. The metaphor of digging remains yet dubious. The columns seem to contradict this. The distribution of the columns reminds to the hypostyle hall filled with giant columns on a rational grid.

The LiMac museum's principle - I would argue- shares a resemblance. Except here the size of the column changes dramatically within the project, which results in a different effect. It is this particularity that tackles one’s perception: the building appears both as a dug-out space and as a space that is organized according to a precise principle.

In the early seventies, to present a museum of space or to present the space of the museum as itself, might not have been such a revolution. The Museum - heavily influenced by the spatial principles and interests of its era's artists - presented itself in the first place as collection of spaces organized by an intelligent set of architectonic elements. I recall that the splendid museum design of Hans Hollein in Mönchengladbach was conceived as an intricate organization of big cubic spaces and rectangular hallways arranged through a rigid set of columns. This project preceded the discussion about the desired appearance of museum buildings. Distracted by this discussion, one can hardly grasp that the quality of the project lays in its spatial organization. The particular facade design of the building takes all the credits.

PRODUCTORA understood this problem and realized that the only possible way to answer to the contemporary status quo on museum architecture was to make the architecture of the(ir) museum disappear. The architecture of the LiMac museum is not there. It is not visible; you can only be in the architecture. The museum is again presented as a spatial organization.

The project presents an act between carving and constructing. In fact, the best way to understand the architect's train of thoughts and the design process is to analyze first the preliminary museum design in which different definitions of space by architectonical elements are proposed. This first variant of the project shows the definition of the spatial types and helps realizing that the second project - this project - is a further development of these. The project is merely a refinement of the different spatial sensations and organizations developed the first project. The trick introduced by the architects is to organize all the different spatial types in the size gradient. This re-organization intends to turn the museum into an open field with different directions. It gives a concept that glides from an open space with columns into a collection of rooms. I tend to believe that even the field with the columns contains a set of rooms. Implicitly, the typology of choice is the room. Thus, the design becomes a clear reaction against the museum as a recognizable icon or a logo for contemporary art. The LIMAC brings us back to the essence of the museum architecture by contemplating the different options of containment: the museum as a receptacle of art.


See the Project LiMac 

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