A starting point was that a new art museum, as a public and cultural building, represents a rare opportunity to create a new node within a city, changing the urban balance and developing the surrounding neighbourhood. In Malmö, a city in the south of Sweden, there was the possibility to create a new art museum with an informal and experimental character, housed within the 1900’s industrial building of the former Electricity plant, which would complement the main museum in Stockholm.
The greatest challenge posed by the project, (in addition to the demanding eighteen-month time limit from sketch-design to inauguration), was the need to adapt the existing industrial brick building to current climatic and security requirements, in order to comply with the highest international standards for art exhibition spaces. It soon became clear that in reality what was needed was a building within a building, a contemporary addition within the existing shell. This radical reconstruction not only provided a challenge, but also gave the opportunity for something new.
Seen from the exterior, a new extension marks the arrival of the new museum. The extension provides a new entrance and reception space, as well as a cafeteria and new upper gallery. Its perforated orange façade both connects to the existing brick architecture and introduces a contemporary element to the neighbourhood. The perforated surface gives the façade a visual depth, and is animated through the dynamic shadow patterns which it creates. The ground floor is fully glazed so that sunlight is screened through the perforated façade.
In relation to its context, the new addition plays with scale. From a distance it is only intelligible in comparison to the adjacent houses, and only in close proximity can the building and its details be read in its own right. The elimination of the standard ‘middle-scale’ strengthens the museum's presence in the immediate urban setting, and at the same time allows the building to appear as a signal, establishing a relationship with Malmö as a whole.
Inside, the building has been reconstructed spatially. Two new staircases allow the visitor to move in a loop between the grand turbine hall and the upper exhibition rooms. The staircases are each enclosed between two walls, and this functions to divide the program of the turbine hall into three separate spaces: an exhibition space, a children's studio and a separate loading area (which also doubles as an exhibition space).
As in Kalmar Art Museum, we have been committed to providing exhibition spaces which allow artists and curators to tailor the conditions to each individual exhibition. Moderna museet Malmö (Malmö Museum of Art) offers a series of white boxes; from the almost domestic scale of the upper gallery, to the Turbine Hall that boasts a unique space of almost eleven meters in height.
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