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2014 MCHAP

Burle Marx Education Center

Paula Zasnicoff - Alexandrew Brasil / Arquitectos Associados

Brumadinho, Brazil

September 2009


Paula Zasnicoff / Arquitetos Associados Alexandre Brasil / Arquitetos Associados


Edmar Ferreira / Arquitetos Associados (Development) Ivie Zappellini / Arquitetos Associados (Model) Rosana Piló / Arquitetos Associados (Model)


Instituto Inhotim


Marcelo Coelho Leonardo Finotti Daniel Mansur


Located at the edge of a marsh, the site presented a great potentiality to be converted in a lake integrated to the sequence of artificial lakes that define the main original garden of the property. The location and its pre-existing conditions – the water, the vegetated enclosure and particularly the topographic situation, in the lower part of a valley, informing that the building would be seen from above - oriented the design strategy. Partly on the ground, partly over the lake, the building re-designs the original topography to create subtle differences of level that organize a reception space and a cafeteria, and also accommodates an auditorium. Over the lake, two pavilions with large glass surfaces allow a greater visual integration with the surroundings, housing the library and workshops. The transparency and the strategic location of the building, half level below the surrounding path that defines its main entrance, contributes to reduce its built presence. This ambiguous presence, beyond mere functional issues, defines the building partly as an inviting shadow, housing the main activities, and partly as a new landscape, with its roof terrace. Open to the sun and integrated to the paths of the museum through a ramp and stairs, it brings to the museum a new type of landscape design, with a water pond and its tropical vegetation. The pond also works as a protection, avoiding handrails and thus creating a more subtle visual integration with the lake as well as the surrounding green areas.


”Inhotim is a unique site that offers a broad ensemble of art works, displayed outdoors as well as in both temporary and permanent galleries, all located inside a Botanical Garden of extraordinary beauty. The landscaping was originally inspired by famed architect and landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994), and rare plant species are distributed in an esthetically pleasing manner throughout an estate which also sports five lakes and a preserved forest area. Instituto Inhotim, decreed a Civil Society Organization of Public Interest, offers, in addition to these areas of artistic enjoyment and entertainment - which make it stand out among similar institutions - develops environmental research work, educational actions and an important program of social inclusion and citizenship for the local population.” ( The Education Center Burle Marx was buit to adequately house all the educational activities developed at Inhotim. It houses a reception space with cafeteria, library, workshops and an auditorium. A small site near the entrance was destined to the building. The limited space available and the desire to mimic the building in the existing landscape suggested the design of an horizontal pavilion, in just one level above the lake, slightly sunken in relation to the surrounds.


A very simple cast-in-situ structure defined by a regular grid with a coffered concrete ceiling allows the cantilevers that reduce the visual presence of the columns and stress the horizontality of the slabs. The choice of materials from a very reduced palette aims at reinforcing the subtle presence of the building as a support that is undoubtedly connected to the surrounding landscape. The exposed concrete in the structure eliminates finishings and reduces maintenance; the paving known as “portuguese stone” that runs through both exterior and interior spaces reinforces the open character of the building, intentionally blurring the limits between interior and exterior. Ultimately, this kind of relaxed mediation between different domains – built and unbuilt; interior and exterior; inside and outside; construction and landscape – stems from the climate condition that offers the possibility of open air use during all seasons, and is one of the specific qualities of Brazilian Modern Architecture that we so much admire. After the completion of the building, the curatorial team, in a very sensitive choice, decided to integrate to the pond the work Narcisus Garden, by Yayoi Kusama. Its five hundred gleaming stainless steel spheres floating on the rooftop water garden amplify the integration of architecture, art and landscape, synthesizing the idea of the institution.

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