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Mateo Riestra, José Arnaud-Bello & Max von Werz

After 30 years in a turn-of-the-century Porfirian villa, the renowned contemporary art gallery OMR decided to move to a new location. The chosen site was an existing brutalist building called Sala Mar

Materials : Concrete glass steel
Position : Mateo
Type : Cultural buildings gallery
design company : José Arnaud-BelloMateo RiestraMax von Werz

After 30 years in a turn-of-the-century Porfirian villa, the renowned contemporary art gallery OMR decided to move to a new location. The chosen site was an existing brutalist building called Sala Margolin, originally dedicated to the sale of records and books. The building's design consisted of a single large space covered by a coffered concrete roof slab under which the different sections of the store were organized by subtle changes in floor level. The roof was supported around the perimeter and by four slender concrete columns framing a central skylight, the most important light source for the space.

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The design strategy was to preserve the existing building as much as possible. A central bathroom core was demolished and some interior details toned down so as to bring out the character of the building and transform it into a generous exhibition space. In order to provide the flexibility required by the client, the concrete floor was leveled and structural wall linings were applied to the interiors, allowing the hanging of substantial artworks anywhere within the 5.5 meters room height. Accompanying the main exhibition space on the ground floor are an access courtyard, reception, technical storage space and a rear garden courtyard onto which a bar opens.

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By thickening the wall that faced the rear courtyard it was possible to resolve the vertical circulation to the new top floor without affecting the structure of the existing slab. This "thickened wall" – a mere two meters wide – allowed the accommodation of a mezzanine with bathrooms as well as the opening up of the newly added interior spaces towards the courtyard by means of a modern and paired down glazed facade. Built on site using standard steel profiles and arranged in rectangular modules this façade integrates projecting windows allowing for passive ventilation. In lieu of a fixed goods lift that would have required the perforation of the existing slab or the introduction of an extra volume infringing on the rear courtyard, the facade has an openable section that allows the movement of large format artworks to the top floor via a mobile lifting platform.

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