Museo Costantini Competition

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The desire to maximize controlled natural light and alternative circulation within the site's geometry led us to accommodate a sequence of galleries/trays (15-meter wide with varying depths) that step up one meter in a continuous spiral. This organization gathers the museum galleries into a single volume floating above the ground level. Visitors may view the complete collection by ascending or descending in a continuous path by means of short stairs or ramps, a circuit that starts and ends in the circulation core. This core simultaneously allows visitors to directly access particular galleries while bypassing others. Given the spiral organization, approximately two thirds of the galleries receive indirect natural light through a skylighted roof covering the site's maximum allowable building area; the other third receives indirect natural light through wall openings that emit glowing light into the galleries from four shafts.

Located between these three volumes, four prismatic light shafts -- lined with Argentinean alabaster -- bring indirect light to all levels, both horizontally as laylights in the ceilings of the ground floor lobby, café, and ticketing area, and vertically as wall panels or volumes in the galleries. Outside, these shafts appear on the facades as glowing alabaster panels flush with the precast concrete wall system. A full-length wall of lighted alabaster presents the museum to the city on the main street. The animated design of the ground level offers a fluid and dynamic ensemble of urban, landscape and architectural elements, accommodating multiple entrances, a variety of places, and a rich palate of materials. Major programmatic elements correspond roughly to the three bays above: the auditorium sits below the south bay, the major public entrance is below the middle bay, service and parking entrances are below the north bay. The ground floor of the museum and the Plaza Peru form a single continuous landscape characterized by subtle but powerful changes of topography. This manipulation of the ground plane creates diverse settings within the park appropriately scaled for both public events and more personal park use. Conceived as a heavy mass, the irregular pyramidal mound generates both the form and use of the spaces around it. Towards the north, it produces one depression suitable for performances that is countered by another depression towards south generating an outdoor area for gatherings spilling from the auditorium. The mound's slow, stepped configuration provides both an area of cafeteria seating and an outdoor stair leading directly to the museum mezzanine.

Year: 1997
Costantini Museum
Buenos Aires, Argentina

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