Museum of Tolerance | 3rd place

Settlement and spatial organization: technique as the founding element of space

The inaugural action that positively delimits and defines the territory and subsequent spaces of the Museum of Tolerance is made through three great and rigorously coordinated constructive gestures. Firstly, the ground is excavated and contained, creating the needed space for future occupation. An autonomous structure building rises from this void, housing exhibition spaces on its underground, public and social areas at ground level and workplaces and study environments on upper levels. Lastly, closing pans and external sealing are added to this structure, granting the building its final appearance. 

From this initial definition, technique is evoked as a fundamental instrument for the liberation of ground plan, granting open space for different cultural and artistic manifestations that will be catalyzed by the Museum. Thus, a covered central space is created, qualified with thirty five meters of free interspace, and capable of congregating the main accesses and public functions of the building. A structure with ribbed slabs done with reinforced concrete and prestressed by transversal beams is sustained throughout its perimeter by four different support points. 

At roof level, a series of longitudinal metallic beams allows the appliance of a cable-stayed solution to the central portion of lower floors. Another set of transversal beams support the external seal panels, reinforcing the constructive independence and tecnotical constitution of these elements. The way the occupancy of the site took place also seeks to guarantee the existing vegetation’s preservation, especially the larger ones. To do so, the recognition of three trees of desirable preservation preceded the allocation of exhibition and technical support underground areas, guiding the carefully designed prop walls. The choice of reducing occupation on the upper portion of the building in relation to the allowed distances was also decided under this premise of vegetation preservation.


Meeting usage demands: the building and the public space

Considering the contemporary museum’s social function, it was fundamental to privilege the creation and maintenance of social space as a support for exchange, meeting, diversities conciliation and enhancer of social and tolerance practice. This project seeks to reinforce the open and public character sought by the institution, marking Museum of Tolerance’s presence at University Campus as a grand public space of transition and reception at ground level. 

Through widely liberating the terrain, protecting and qualifying reception level, the building’s upper portion is elevated from the ground, defining a covered platform where the visitor is received and oriented through the different programs, with clarity and simplicity. This square-like platform is thus treated as a continuation of public space, reinforcing the democratic character of the building by allowing its complete permeability guaranteed through the minimal installation of physical obstacles at this arriving space. The topography’s reconstruction and conciliation of different terrain levels is made through this covered square’s design. Converted into a  meeting space, wide and unobstructed, it brings together the spaces of greater public nature: cinema, restaurant, shop and access to adjacent spaces. 

The program was then organized taking this square as a starting point, seeking to clarify the distinction between study and learning spaces, elevated from this access platform, and museum exhibition areas, located underground. This organization craves better correspondence between usage and space, prioritizing work and extended stay places to receive better conditions of insolation, natural ventilation and significant views. These spaces ended up being the library, laboratories, administration and coordination rooms, auditorium and classrooms. On the other hand, the need for strict control of lighting, noise and artificial climate guided the arrangement of exhibition areas in confined spaces. To achieve greater freedom and flexibility of exhibitions (temporary or permanent), these areas were defined through great open spaces. Therefore, the integration of support and service spaces in adjacent areas were fundamental to such conception, concentrating the sanitary installations, vertical circulation, changing rooms, pantry, technical reserve and assembly. 

The building’s conception also sought to guarantee universal and unrestricted access to all the Museum of Tolerance’s composing spaces. For such, the use of vertical ordination fulfills the program through levels, favoring the use of accessible ramps as the main element of circulation and articulation of the museum’s functions. This way, different activities evolve through a continuous and homogenic manner, without creating real ruptures or segregations between spaces. The work and study spaces were internalized, favoring the concentration and introspection needed for good performance. On the contrary, social spaces and circulation were arranged on the periphery of each floor, stimulating the social interaction associated with the enjoyment of the campus landscape. 

The external setback areas were taken advantage of by a parking lot, with load and unload areas, with the fifty requested parkings. This solution also played a role in the integral preservation of existing trees, also guaranteeing the grounds permeability through the use of interlocked floors with grass. A parking space for tourism vehicles was also proposed outside the museum and incorporated to an existing bus stop, which required its redesign, 


The plastic treatment of volumes and surfaces

This proposal for the Museum of Tolerance seeks to guarantee the singular presence of the building among its surrounding landscape, through its plastic stand out in comparison to its immediate surroundings. To achieve that, the project reduces the built masses and dematerializes the most visible volume, that is, the upper block. The fixation of the base’s stereotomic character, conforming it from sections and rigorous cuts through the newly created ground,  was therefore suggested as an option and also as a way to define the main access at the same time it hides the grander built volumes. These actions also reinforce the distinction made between the exhibition areas (which are controlled environments located underground) and the work and study spaces (elevated through the pilotis and full of natural lighting and ventilation).

In addition to disposing part of the building’s program underground, three other strategies were simultaneously combined to obtain the effect of reduced built volumes: the valorization of external sealing plans as autonomous and independent elements from the building’s supporting structure; its extension beyond floor boundaries, eliminating certain edges that could suggest a prismatic volume; the asymmetric splitting of these same plans in accordance with the main access towards the covered square; and finally, the option of a lighter and regular material, with the capacity of transmitting part of the incident light to the interior of the building. 

To compose the external closing plans, white marble cut into sheets and fixed by metallic frames of controlled thickness was chosen as an expressive element. This was decided due to the singular characteristics of this material, which allows the conciliation between the needed external sealing and the desirable lighting on the interior, filtered through the marble. The possibility of dry assembly and the generation of a continuous and homogeneous epidermis was also a factor that led to this material. For the southeast and northeast external sealing a smooth, colorless glass was used, favoring the enjoyment of the surrounding landscape, while also allowing better control of luminosity and ventilation in work and study areas. On the site’s western portion, an extension of the side sealing plans and roof was proposed towards the group of preserved trees. This solution allows correcting the building’s proportions and solves the need of controlling direct sunlight on the upper floors, at the same it creates an extensive covered transitioning space at public square level. The use of raw appearance constructive materials, dispensing coatings of any kind, seeks to minimize the maintenance operations at the same time it reinforces the architectural simplicity and honesty ideals. This way, the Museum of Tolerance’s headquarters building is fueled with the desirable character of permanence.