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2016 MCHAP

Modern Art Museum of Medellin (MAMM) Expansion

51-1 Arquitectos + CtrlG

Medellin, Colombia

August 2015


Manuel de Rivero / 51-1 Fernando Puente Arnao / 51-1 Cesar Becerra / 51-1 Viviana Peña / CtrlG Catalina Patiño / CtrlG


Isabel Dapena (Project Coordinator) Sebastián Monsalve (Designer) Jorge Gómez (Designer) Eduardo Peláez (Designer) Nicolas Parra / CNI Ingenieros Consultores (Structural Engineer)


Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin


Cristobal Palma


MAMM seeks to recover the sense of the city as a ‘common good’ via a spatial system that beyond providing ‘strictly controlled museum conditions’ also provides openness and flexibility for public programs. Instead of a building; a vertical village. This way, as in the informal barrios of stacked houses in the hillsides, where one’s roof is the upstairs neighbor’s terrace, in the MAMM Expansion, the required programs are piled up making a cascade of public terraces connected by stairs across a central void. Eleven boxes -of different sizes, heights- rotate and pile on top of each other, in a careful and strategic placement. Each box is wrapped in an ad-hoc material based on its programmatic need: precast concrete, white glass, perforated steel panels and concrete fretworks. In-between those boxes is the place where relations among visitors are multiplied and new dialogues with the landscape are suggested. A Colombian Piranesi. Inside, a promenade of art spaces. Outside, a vertical extension of the linear park of Ciudad del Rio up to the fifth floor, enjoying the city’s pleasant year long spring weather. This is not only to extend the city’s public life inside the building, but to –inversely- make possible that art and culture propagates to the exterior making them more public and accessible. A great contribution in that sense is the reversible theater, since by investing in equipping only one stage, it can be arranged as a conventional (closed) theater for 250 seats or - by opening its eastern façade - to face the adjoining plaza and address a more massive open-air audience.


In line with famous Medellin’s operations of bringing world-class libraries and schools into the poorest areas of the city, the local government`s most recent attempt is to address the urban needs in poorly urbanized formal areas. MAMM expansion is key in that. It sits in former industrial land that -since 2006- has started redevelopment into a dense middle-class neighborhood dominated by gated communities and a dearth of public space. The project is the result of an international competition to extend MAMM’s old factory Talleres Robledo, refurbished in 2009 as temporary exhibition spaces. The brief demanded for doubling the existing museum with proper art storage, white cube gallery spaces for the permanent art collection, a performance and screening theater, experimental and educational labs, offices, event spaces, commercial units and a parking basement. The intervention area tucked between the existing museum, a linear narrow park and high-rise residential condos required an intelligent spatial solution to link all of them and develop an active public space for the nascent Ciudad del Rio development.


Open to the public in September 2015, it was quickly adopted by people of different ages and dissimilar interests, contributing to an improvement in urban equity. MAMM Expansion offers Medellin an alternative meeting point to the ubiquitous shopping mall and is a step towards a culturally vibrant city. Its covered passageway on the ground floor -with cafes, shops and the museum entrance- protects passersby from tropical rain and sunshine and serves as an open hall, linking the plaza and the park behind the museum to the street. Its flexible theater is weekly used both for closed performances and an active screening program of independent films, as well as open-air events in its plaza. Attendance to the exhibitions has exceeded all expectations, MAMM’s director María Mercedes González declared: “We see an immediate answer, very enthusiastic, people are very proud, the city feels the museum as his.” Even the new Mayor chose the museum’s atrium to swear before the city, declaring “MAMM represents the recovery of public space and culture”. Reputed Colombian writer Hector Abad praised about new MAMM: “It is a building where you feel like in an Escher’s artwork because one does not know well if you are going up or down the stairs. In the new MAMM people can enter freely, and is a popular meeting point, not only for viewing well chosen contemporary art but to attend concerts and shows. It is an entertaining, fun building.” He considered MAMM as a symbol of the new Medellin Cartel… now based on C(iencia) Arte (&) L(iteratura).

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