MuBa: Gran Canaria Museum of Fine Arts

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MuBA: GRAN CANARIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS // Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2015

The interior of public buildings is an extension of the cities they sit in, like medieval cathedrals relate to their home towns and belong to the collective heritage. MuBA_GC satisfies all the requirements to be an integral part of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and a common asset of all its citizens, a 21st-century collective room preserving the local culture and heritage.

Our design is an attempt at tackling a long-standing problem in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: bridging the gap between elevated points set apart by ravines.

The Hospital San Martín, just outside the limits of the founding district of Vegueta, is erected on the ravine known as Guiniguada at the base of the Northern face of a rock escarpment by the name of “Risco de San Juan”. An impressive presence situated on the edge of the ravine, San Martín is surrounded by narrow streets crowded with low houses, a setting that apparently could hardly embrace the buzzing activity of a museum. However, the ravine itself and its inherent relevance make it the right location to access the MuBA_GC. For this purpose, it has been necessary to make use of the empty plot between the adjacent streets -calle Ramón y Cajal and calle Juan de Quesada-, which is referred to as “space available” and “underground parking” by the General Urban Planning of Las Palmas. (Plan GS19S) This particular action shall connect ravine and hospital in two different ways: a pedestrian access for residents and a public entrance to the museum building for visitors. By passers will find an exterior short cut that features mechanical stairs and views to the museum.

By providing an access from the ravine, the museum will become an integral part of the cultural offer of the sector. This new space for heritage preservation, investigation and promotion of arts shall add to the whole array of the town’s cultural cornerstones -CAAM, Fundación Mapfre, Gabinete LIterario, Theater, the Rector’s Office Buliding, the Cathedral, Columbus House, MuBA_GC- and, located in a central point, shall bring cohesiveness to the Guiniguada area.

One subject of debate in heritage related discussions is the dimensional appropriateness of renovated spaces: the height and width of a medical complex do not conform to the needs of a contemporary exhibition facility, at least not completely. Museums are made to be visited and enjoyed, they are public spaces for creation and display. A sort of theatrical stage of considerable size and furnished with the necessary equipment to host diverse representations. As a result, the standards of 21st century spaces, with elevations above 5 meters in height and high-tech equipment, contrast with the existing wall structures, which bear a significant weight of history, but also suggest a great deal of suffering. The morphology of the ravine offers hollow spaces of 10 to 15 meters in height, featuring different routes that convey diverse experiences, such as a certain uneasiness from the past -stemming out of the old Hospital walls- as well as sheer excitement while visiting virtual and imaginary places, in a way a modern edition of the 20th century avant-garde’s “magic box”.

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