MALI Design Competition

New contemporary art wing

Urban design
Architectural competition. Honorable mention.
The corner at the intersection of Paseo Colón and Av. Wilson is a strategic point in terms of the urbanistic development of the area that will, in the future, gain significance and dynamics through its connection to the Metro de Lima. The new wing of the MALI has to create space for a multitude of people moving in and through it, be they passers-by or visitors of the MALI and the Parque de la Exposición. But where can a building be located if, paradoxically, it has to serve as a public plaza and simultaneously represent a public building – a solid and a void at the same time? It will have to grow below ground. Not completely though as the roof is designed as a platform for the crowd walking to their different destinations in this eminently urban environment. This platform will act both as a stage for the flow of people but also for individual users. All sorts of people will gather, find a quiet spot, face cultural challenges, and experience art. The platform is also suitable for stage performances, installations, multimedia work, and large-scale sculptures. Open to a wider public, it will also host markets and fiestas, including the annual party of the MALI itself.

Public Platform
The surface of the platform is covered with ceramic tiles. Traditionally, interior courtyards but also public squares in Lima have of old been covered with ceramic tiles. The ceramic surface enhances the character of a public square, of a surface providing a space for civic life to unfold, imbuing it with a strong identity. The pattern thus developed unobtrusively structures the plaza and provides it with its specific scale. Derived from this very pattern, movable benches and planters invite people to constantly re-design and re-organize it.

Buried in the ground, the new wing represents a negative volume, reminding us equally as well of ancestral architecture or infrastructures such as the metro. Lucio Fontana’s “concetti spaziali” as early and particularly elaborate examples of piercings and cavities in the media of painting and sculpture may serve as a reference for its spatial articulation. The new wing deliberately transforms the negative volume into an urban design and architectural concept, revealing its limits, spaces, and structure. Its entrances and apertures orchestrate a play of light in the form of ribbon glazing and skylights, providing the new wing with elements users will experience as symbols of openness, attracting them and helping them to orient themselves. In fact, the new wing will be imbued with a stronger presence than its merely physical reality. Especially the apertures offer “in-sights” or vistas provoking their curiosity and stimulating their imagination and, therefore, their desire to enter the building and be part of the life and art it harbours inside.


The MALI can simultaneously be perceived as an elegant and representative museum building and a purpose-built edifice for exhibitions. The grid of columns allows for a high spatial flexibility and the cast-iron steel supports, manufactured according to Gustav Eiffel’s drawings, are an eloquent example for this. The new wing adopts this philosophy. The column grid here is not covered by a neo-Renaissance façade built in vernacular/local construction though but embedded in the ground.
Two ramps lead to the main entrance und structure the immediate surroundings of the atrium around which the entire space programme is organized. The first ramp leads from the MALI to the new wing. It complements the stairs and the forecourt of the MALI and enhances its main entrance. A second ramp directly links the entrance and the atrium to the landscape of the park. This direct line of sight to the green of the park defines the serene atmosphere of the rooms placed around the atrium. From the gallery, a new perspective unfolds, a flowing movement from the inside to the outside space. The platform serves as a canopy, at the same time however as a terrace floating above the forecourt of the MALI and the park.

Flexible Modulable Spaces
At the other end, at the exit to the Metro, a ramp virtually invites you to use the platform or directly leads to the entrance to the classrooms of the programa educativo. The galleries, the programa educativo, and the library merge into a unique ensemble complemented by an attractive auditorium and a museum café. Access-ways and functional sequences promote an exchange without disturbing or hindering each other. The school wing as well as the exhibition hall are designed to be highly flexible. They may be freely organized and allow for a multitude of spatial situations and atmospheres. Should the school be merged in another place, these rooms could be converted into additional galleries.


The exhibition space consists of a large and freely modulable gallery, whose spatial structure is somewhat analogous to a basilica. Daylight streams into the exhibition space from two different skylights. The main aisle is illuminated by four light domes, the lateral aisles by a light slit along its entire length. This light slit also provides a generous amount of daylight for the classrooms. Thus, the daylight provides the gallery with a varied and generous space and a mood stimulating visitors without however competing with the art, the exhibits. A grid made of light bars achieves an optimum mixture and distribution of natural and artificial light. Movable lamellas and a dust ceiling are additional components to achieve a suitable intensity of light. These illuminants varyingly spread warmer and cooler colour temperatures that can be combined with the actual quantity of light and the incident daylight. Thanks to the broad scope of possible light modulations, visitors will experience the ambient light as vital daylight, while both spaces and exhibits are individually illuminated in an optimum manner.


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