Iberê Camargo Foundation
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Álvaro Siza 2 Arquitecto SA
GOP - Gabinete de Organização de Projectos, Lda - Jorge Nunes da Silva (Principal engineer)
Fundação Iberê Camargo
Duccio Malagamba Fernando Guerra
The proposed programme includes spaces for exhibition, storage, library and video library, bookstore, cafe, small auditorium, but also administrative offices, and artists workshops. The building base is constituted by a long platform, 1,40 meters above the avenue level. This platform is accessible from the avenue walkway by a ramp. An undulating wall, which rises to the total height of the building, delimits on the inside the access atrium, which is surrounded by the exhibition rooms and by the reception, coatroom, and bookstore on the ground floor. The three upper floors are occupied by exhibition rooms that open to the void above the ground floor atrium. Permanent and temporary exhibition spaces are not differentiated, with the option for flexibility appropriate to the actual functioning of museums. A system of ramps, partially in the internal atrium and partially in the external spaces, surround the undulating membrane of the facade, Small openings in the ceilings and walls allow for light to come in and a view of the landscape. The exhibition rooms of all floors can be opened onto the space of the atrium, or closed by movable four-meter high panels. The rooms of the last floor receive natural and artificial light from skylights made up of double-paned glass, accessible for cleaning and maintenance. The remaining exhibition rooms are lighted by similar skylights that use artificial light, complementing the natural light that is reflected by the walls of the atrium.
The site is relatively small in size, narrow and bordered by a busy avenue. It has a very steep slope with exuberant vegetation, corresponding to a former stone quarry. The main objective of the programme was to construct a building that could house the collection of Iberê Camargo, a brazilian painter. The artist’s widow followed the work with great enthusiasm and support and a group of sponsors guaranteed the museum’s viability. The land was offered by the Porto Alegre City Government. The view is beautiful, looking over the Guaíba, one of those wide south american rivers that seem like the sea. The museum had to be developed as a vertical construction. The shape of the building is dependent of the shape of the slope against which it is built. The front of the building is undulated in a symmetrical manner to the slope itself. The main difficulty faced was the lack of space, answering the museum’s needs in a narrow plot of land, and to solve the problem of parking. There was no land available, since the basement areas should be used for archives, storage and a small auditorium. The proposed solution was approved, to build the car-park under the marginal avenue.
Iberê Camargo was one of the most important brazilian painters of the twentieth century, having spent most of his life in Rio de Janeiro after studying in Italy and France. A foundation with his name was established in Porto Alegre, his birth place, where the several thousand works that constitute his estate can be preserved, studied and exhibited. The layout of the exhibition spaces in this building is adapted to the spirit of the curatorial policy of the Foundation, with the work of Camargo being shown in different consecutive exhibitions that highlight different facets of his production and interests. The Foundation also presents the work of other modern artists, and the investigation on themes of contemporary art is at the center of the concerns displayed on exhibitions and discussed in workshops, publications and conferences. Educational programs are also available to different age groups, offering the city people a more in depth relationship with the building, the artist it showcases and the issues and problems of modern art. The large and open exhibition spaces, as well as the complementary spaces (auditorium, library, workshop rooms), are an essential physical support for the development of these activities and the continuous involvement of the city in the life of this building.