Modern Art Museum of Medellin
by 51-1 Arquitectos


Peru studio 51-1 Arquitectos and Colombian architects Ctrl G have won a competition to design an extension to the Modern Art Museum of Medellin, Colombia.

Drawing on the brick structures of the local barrios, the new building will be made up of stacked boxes.

These will create a series of terraces that visitors will access by internal or external circulation.

The information below is from the architects:

Modern Art Museum of Medellin second phase
51-1 arquitectos (Supersudaca Peru) & Ctrl G (Colombia)

Medellin is a very steep valley and the city settles on its slopes. You are always going up or going down. With the typical growth pattern of Latin-American cities, informal barrios settle in impossible geographies of very difficult access. Piled on top of each other, brick constructions from the barrios, go terracing and generating thousands of public interstices and small squares where people exercise their urbanity in flexible and ingenious ways.

Medellin's successive governments have invested in exceptional infrastructure projects in those barrios, aiming to structure and integrate them into the 'formal' city with such series of public equipment as library parks, schools, squares, cable cars, bridges, etc. The city has arrived to the barrio.

After those successful emblematic interventions in the urged barrios of the North and Center of the city, Medellin now proposes itself to intervene in more affluent areas of the South.

The dismantled premises of the former steel factory SIMESA, have been turned into the 'Ciudad del Rio' (River City): a rigid urban development of housing and office towers dependent of a shopping mall.

Public space has been reduced to a narrow park and to the new venue of the Modern Art Museum (MAMM) in a recycled industrial building. If the informal barrios had soul and its structure what have been given, the new Ciudad del Rio has structure but lacks soul. That task the new MAMM shall do. The international invited competition called for the proposal of an extension of the museum next to the industrial building.

If formality of the city was exported to the barrios, to the excessive formality of the new Ciudad del Rio could be imported the vitality of the barrios. A Yin yang Dadaist.

As in Duchamp's urinal taken to the museum, in this case we take the Medellin sloped barrio to the Ciudad del Rio. The alternative to the shopping mall as leisure space - MAMM's role - must happen from the generation of a barrio.

The program for the museum competition consisted of series of rooms without any relationship among them. For us it seemed more important the relationship between the exterior public spaces that would activate the neighborhood than between the interior spaces. This condition allows to stop thinking of the project as in a conventional building.

The organization logic is based then on the basic rules of each program component having an address to the circulation and the flexibility to growth over time (just like the barrios!)

This way the project for the new museum is an informal (but strategic) pilement of blocks that create enormous potentialities in the multiple terraces generated at the interstices. Also those terraces can be seen as spatial reserves for the future growth of the enclosed spaces of the museum. We see it as an incomplete museum.

A museum which can be completed ephemerally with tents and kiosks or definitely by building the terraces until the whole building turns into an impenetrable cube.

This is not a defined and finished building, it is a barrio.

The project is planned as the new main entry of the museum articulating the new spaces of the extension with the existing ones, and with this gesture the MAMM opens itself to the neighboring ìel Pobladoî district.

The project has a vertical circulation through the interior of the blocks, thus controlled and weather protected, but also (and specially) an exterior circulation that connects one terrace with the other, bringing the public on a path from the street up to the upper platform. Each one of these terraces can be conceived as a small square, making the museum 'a cascade of plazuelas'.

This double circulation (indoors and outdoors) allows great flexibility both for exhibitions and simultaneity of events. For instance, the temporal gallery in the third level can be accessed from the external circulation while the one in the fourth can be reached independently from the internal passages.

The lower level's vocation is to be integrated to the adjacent park. In a simple manner, the theater can be incorporated to it and become a stage that interacts with it.

Towards the center of the museum, the piling of blocks generate a vertical central atrium that allows for a great diversity of uses. A tropical Guggengheim. A shadowbox.

Posted on Monday March 15th 2010 at 6:30 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • WOW ..boxy overlapping..seen this before

  • Good design. Looks like some intersting outdoor spaces. Also, looks like they generated a very good traffic pattern with this layout.

  • Poster

    Ok maybe this poor building has to pay for a bad day i’m having but for gods sake!stacked boxes,what a new idea!I hate it when a building plan has been done in an hour and the render took weeks I mean what’s the point sorry I may suffer from a bad day but this is not going to make me feel better with architecture in general

  • medellin se esta convirtiendo en un polo de la arquitectura latinoamericana,es fantastica

  • Nacho

    wow.. boxy overlapping comment..seen this before

  • roman kralya

    presentation matirials are very good, but architectural forms dislike.

  • join to have to join the consensus on this one, it does feel like we have seen this before…

  • jac_oli

    this is one of the worst project i’ve seen on dezeen in a long time … picture 2 made me laugh for 10 minutes …

  • 김영

    내부 평면은 매우 다양한거 같다
    외부 입면은 정신없다
    신기하게 두개가 더불어 좋은결과를 내기는 힘들어 보인다

  • jpk

    almost like VitraHaus, very nice!

  • Tom

    You can never have enough overlapping boxes!

    Its weak criticism to levy against a project that ‘its been done before’ – everything has been done before, should it not be about how resolved the idea is and appropriate it is to select that particular form/ masssing strategy (this instance being the typology of overlapping boxes.) Personally i like it, think its more spatially complex than H & deM’s overlapping box houses a la Weil an Rhein.

  • Jacrobat

    Sponsored by coke?

  • Fidel

    Quite a poor design. Surprizing, because both are good offices.

  • gaque

    @loncatt: yes its not at the cutting edge of architectural form innovation–but who cares. if this was constructed, i think it would be a beautiful building.

    congratulations to medellin for promoting contemporary architecture in its public buildings and space. its a strong example for colombia and latin america in general.

  • Roger Emmerson

    Oh no, it fell over……

  • Bopper3000

    (blocks fall over)…..JENGA!!! you lose!

  • vitrahaus

  • Carlos Garzón

    No hace poco nos documentamos por este medio del proyecto “vitra haus” por Herzong & de Meuron: proyecto del vitra campus de weil am Rhein, Alemania 2006. De igual manera del Vanke Centro de Shenzhen de Steven Holl; paraceria que este proyecto del MAMM sito en Medellin Colombia toma atenta nota de los aspectos y caracteristicas arquitectonicas de estos dos proyectos, si bien el concepto de volumenes apilados es una tendencia expuesta desde el 2002 y es un logico desarrollo de la catedra arquitectonica en los primeros años de estudio, tambien y mas validos aún son los aspectos de LUGAR – CULTURA LOCAL – PAISAJE que se traducen en un solo aspecto fundamental: IDENTIDAD. para los debiles y marginados conocedores de la arquitectura local resulta magnifico y tal vez ingenioso que este tipo de proyectos se hagan en Medellin, ya tenemos varios ejemplos en esa ciudad de copias sustentadas como en este caso en el uso de los materiales tradicionales (ladrillo) y en la topografia del lugar. pero que poca investigación y que falta a la etica creer que esos ejemplos de la aquitectura se pueden posicionar y contribuir en el desarrollo intelectual de la historia de la arquitectura en Colombia; pareceria que el modelo “Las Vegas” donde pequeñas y de pesimo gusto,replicas de iconos de la arquitectura mundial se desdibujan y se presentan de forma divertida como una escenografia. ¡Sera que Medellin esta proyectada para convertirse en una ciudad como las Vegas y no nos han dicho nada? Salve Dios la patria. y a los arquitectos culturalemente formados.

  • mas de lo mismo, cajas sobre puestas de forma vertiginosa y costosa , pieles randomizadas, esquemas de circulacion, esquemas de funcion(OMA????) super renders wow, y los sutentable, y la identidad, y el entorno (FUCK DE CONTEXT??? OMA agin?) medellin asi como muchas ciudades “renacentistas” copian la moda global y se alejan de la realidad del planeta y sus regiones, mucha moda ,poca congruencia…………

  • Mk

    I would have to argue this is very cutting edge. its layout and ground connection is very now.

    the whole “stacking box’s is dumb” argument is just a formalist critique and fails to due justice to the actual function of the building.

    job well done.

  • not a serious critique, just, have to say it strikes me the same as a pile of empty shoe boxes in my girlfriend’s closet.

  • zionne

    I’ve never seen before sketch’up boxes!

  • gyjghjg

    wow… walls…. i have seen this before

  • Julio

    Qué facil hablar y criticar la imagen de un edificio. Ni siquiera saben dónde queda y qué es Medellín.

    Qué fácil hablar desde el primer mundo y criticar como estudiantes de primer semestre. Qué fácil criticar por criticar con la superficialidad con que las señoras hablan mal de sus amigas. Es muy fácil ser ofensivo, muy difícil entender qué sucede en Medellín y cómo y para qué se hace arquitectura. Ojalá hubieran venido a ver los diseñitos que los arquitectos "internacionales" enviaron a este concurso, no pararían de hablar.

    • Juan

      Julio, seriously…
      Being in the theird world doesn't mean you have to accept third architecture.

  • hana

    over over OVER designed…. puffff! kind of dutch style…

  • Sergio

    I LIVE IN MEDELLIN, and let me tell you, this is a great project. Reading all of the explanation might make some sense at you guys but for us, medellinenses, makes a WHOLE LOT of sense. When you live in such a city with so many specific shapes and forms, you get to understand where this project come from. It's very well proposed. And for those who say this is ridiculous or copied, remember: it's a modern and contemporary art museum, not an office building, it's about having fun and joy with architecture.

    • Juan

      Let's start with the context… Medellin context? You the remanents of ketsch 80's architecture?

      This is "Sketchup Architecture", nothing more. Where is the "fun"? Where is the inspiration? Where are the spaces for exhibitions? Boxes? Where is "the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light" ?

  • Juan

    That's the very show of "Sketchup Architecture" (Even the layouts !)

  • CtrlG Fan

    I went to hear Catalina Patiño, partner at CtrlG, speak last night at the CCA in San Francisco. While I wasn't completely ecstatic with the end result of this building extension, Catalina articulated very well the inspiration of how this project came to be. The problem with this Dezeen post is that it doesn't share the key diagram drawings explaining how the final design of the building came about.

    I would highly recommend in clicking the link below to view the presentation board on Ctrl G's website which explains the concept behind the building form. (warning text is in spanish for all you gringos):

    While overlapping boxes is nothing new, in this proposal it does makes sense in its approach to tie in with the existing urban fabric.

    But what I found more impressive is how Catalina and her office are not only winning competitions but getting them built at such an early age in their careers. It was refreshing to see an unpretentious young architect who clearly has a great passion for the discipline of architecture. Young American architects that are whining about unemployment, long hours, low pay, etc. can learn a lot from Ctrl.G and their Latin American friends.

  • el estudiante

    Looks like a bad project student who uses too much copy / paste.

    A museum of the most classic but with a sexy skin for a render. I do not see any interest.