What do we do when we do not like what we have and we want to replace it with something new, but we do not know what this should be? This question, apparently so obvious, is, for me, the definition of the word ‘crisis’, and is much more significant than it might seem at first sight in any field of knowledge, including architecture, which is the field we are interested in.
The glass box is a collective research project that tries to find an abstract spatial prototype (not situated in any concrete location but easily adaptable to all) that defines the new organisation of all the museum components in order to replace the obsolete programme of the present-day museum.
Its name refers to a double meaning: on the one hand conceptual transparency, on the other spatial transparency. The former entails an intent to reflect in a clear way the whole process generated by the development of the project; the aim of the physical transparency is to achieve, via the spatial organisation, maximum visual permeability of all activities of the museum for the visitor.
It contains the following parts: general organisation of the space, accesses, public area, work area (coordination, research and technical area), communication area and the relationship with the outside world.
The project departments of three schools of architecture with their respective tutors, as well as two individual teams and a number of professionals – a total of more than 60 people – have contributed to this project. The ideas that have resulted from this are so numerous that, besides stimulating reflection among professionals, I am sure that at least some of the new solutions proposed are perfectly valid. Time will tell.
The research project
The glass box: a spatial prototype
Section 1: Division into areas
· Working unit 1: The physical connection
· Working unit 2: The visual relationship
· Working unit 3: The museum and the university
· Working unit 4: Flexibility and growth
Section 2. Accesses
· Working unit 5: General accesses
· Working unit 6: The arrival of the works
Section 3. The public area
· Working unit 7: Reinterpreting the 19th century model
· Working unit 8: Periphery and spirals
Section 4. The work area
· Working unit 9: The relation between the parts
· Working unit 10: Coordination and research
· Working unit 11: The connection with the communication area
Section5. The communication area
· Working unit 12: A continuous space
· Working unit 13: Exhibition units
· Working unit 14: Integral equipment
· Working unit 15: The relationship with warehouses
· Working unit 16: Auditorium or multipurpose space?