AL_A MAAT© Paulo Coelho - Courtesy EDP Foundation
12 October 2016
by Monique Ricketts
This Wednesday, 5 October saw the official opening of MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology - on the Tagus River in Belém, Lisbon. The public programme included feature exhibition openings, educational events, performances and music happenings.
Housed within two buildings and spanning a vast outdoor site, MAAT explores contemporary culture through visual arts, new media, architecture, technology and science. It is comprised of the recently renovated Central Tejo power station and the elegant new kunsthalle designed by AL_A, the architecture practice headed by British architect Amanda Levete, recently showcased as a New British Inventor, whose studio embodies the emerging wave of ‘invention in design’.
The new kunsthalle
AL_A’s new kunstshalle, which contains four distinct gallery spaces, captures the essence of the exceptional 38,000 m2 riverside site and its extraordinary light. Blending structure into landscape, and conceived to create significant new public spaces, it is designed to allow visitors to walk over and under, as well as through the building, while the undulating roof offers panoramic views towards the river and across Belém. The building creates a constantly changing place filled with aquatic reflections that interplay with the overhanging façade covered in 15,000 three-dimensional tiles, a reference to Portugal’s rich tradition of ceramics.
Speaking about the design, Amanda Levete, Principal of AL_A, commented:
“In understanding EDP’s ambition for Lisbon, our design draws on the context of the site, creating both physical and conceptual connections to the waterfront and back to the heart of the city.
“The waterfront is so essential to the project that the design literally reflects it. The overhanging roof that creates welcome shade is used to bounce sunlight off the water and into the Main Gallery, one of the four interconnected exhibition spaces.”