A powerful expression of architecture, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona has become a visual symbol of today’s city.
“The whiteness of white is never just white; it is almost always transformed by light.” This is what Richard Meier, the arhitect who designed the Museum of contemporary art of Barcelona, states. An his large (120 by 35 m with a height of 23 m) white cube, with a glazed soutern facades, speaks exactly about how light and shadows affect white spaces.
The atrium is the building’s quintessential space for interaction. It is a covered gallery parallel to the façade, which filters and distributes light throughout the three levels of ramps and hallways leading to the exhibition rooms.
Forensic Architecture Exhibition at MACBA, 2017
The building is shaped by a combination of rectilinear and curved elements, a geometry that is softened by the external light that comes into the building through open galleries and large skylights.
Richard Meier’s architecture is fundamentally a formal reinterpretation of rationalism, with references to the masters of the modern movement, particularly Le Corbusier:
In Barcelona we were investigating the potential for new interactions, not only for the museum, but also new interactions between the art and the architecture of the museum, Richard Meyer says in an interview*.
“Contemporary art is boldly unpredictable, whether it be painting, sculpture, video, digital media, prints and photography, or performance art, Meyer continues. The scale of some canvases, sculpture, video, and performance installations has become enormous, whether a Kiefer painting, a Serra arc, or an Eliasson installation. Different objects should be perceived in different ways, yet an architect cannot assume what particular object or work will be displayed.
Fundamentally then, we propose a broad variety of spaces to accommodate those scales, and the unexpected, as we have done at the MACBA. Beyond its potential for mounting exhibitions of existing art, artists soon found fascinating ways of engaging the variety of spaces within the museum through a series of site-specific commissions and/or re-imagining their works’ presentations. The boundaries between architecture and art have been blurred.”
Natural light enters the building, be it through the apertures in the corners, the curtain walls, or the skylights in the ceilings. Some structural elements are separated from the line of the façade and the building envelope in order to allow continuous overhead lighting.
The museum opened to the public in 1995 and in 2014 acquired an additional venue for its programming, comprising a 15th-century chapel and two large halls.
The spaces are used for performances and site-specific installations.