Picasso Museum

The project integrates the Buenavista Palace with adjoining houses to house the Picasso Museum, a library-documentation centre, a building for the department of education and an auditorium. Some of the buildings that are incorporated are preserved, their façades and roofs restored and, where possible, their typology is retained. Thus, the museum complex is perfectly adapted to the narrow medieval streets  that are characteristic of the Old Town., integrating the entire building in the Old Town by coating the façades with lime plaster.

Spain
Malaga
Contractor
PICASSO MUSEUM FOUNDATION OF MALAGA

Issues and stakes

Work began on building the Buenavista Place, home of the museum, around 1530, half a century after the conquest of Malaga after almost eight centuries of Muslim domination. The palace was built in Renaissance and Moorish style, with a very simple plan of four living rooms around a porticoed courtyard with a noonday garden. This simple plan made it possible for the different uses that the Palace has had throughout its life to occur without structural changes. This is the building that Christine Ruiz-Picasso chose to host the works she generously donated to the city of Malaga. From the start it was clear that the Palace alone would not be sufficient for the complexity of functions that a modern museum has to host in order to fulfil international requirements. Thus began a process of acquisition of adjoining houses. To promote the idea of the Museum as a living institution, its planned function as a museum in the strictest sense was extended to include a library-documentation centre, a building for the department of education and an auditorium. Some of the buildings that are incorporated are preserved, their façades and roofs restored and, where possible, their typology is retained. Thus, the museum complex is perfectly adapted to the narrow medieval streets  that are characteristic of the Old Town. 

From the early stages of the project we worked with the idea of juxtaposing a decidedly contemporary architecture with the existing architecture of the Palace and of the preserved buildings. As in the rest of the historic city and in every living city, there is a mixture of architecture from different periods. The new buildings coexist respectfully with the existing ones, without violating the urban space, naturally, without false concessions to history. Intervention in the historic building in order to meet the requirements of the museum is of necessity difficult. The museums require a lot of space for the technical installations that enable compliance with the environmental conditions required by curators with regard to temperature, humidity and air quality as well as lighting, security, etc. These installations, which can be provided for in the new building from the start of the project, must be accommodated in the Palace, not only with regard to the provision of space for the machines or panels but also to run all the connections from them to the endpoints in the rooms, especially the air conditioning ducts, which are often large. 
Inside the exhibition rooms special care has been taken to ensure that these installations cannot be seen, so that nothing that might disturb the contemplation of the work of art is visible. If it is necessary for installations to be visible, they are designed so as to blend into the architectural ambiance of the building. The windows and balconies of the rooms are left open, letting in natural light that is however diffused by blinds so as not to distort the lighting of the paintings. 
The new temporary exhibition rooms are designed like clean containers with clear lines and good proportions and any elements that might distract from the contemplation of the works of art are kept to a minimum. The rooms on the upper floor enable light from above. Natural light can enter these rooms via a large central skylight whose inner surface is covered by a single-piece stretched canvas. 
Archaeology: In the basement of the Museum archaeological remains found in the excavations are exhibited, the most important among which is the Phoenician city wall, from the 16th century BC, which marks the boundary of the first population settlement that took place in the foothills of the Alcazaba. The subsequent cultures that passed through the city can be seen under the foundations of the museum. The dominion of the Roman Empire over the whole of the Mediterranean left a magnificent theatre in Malaga, situated near to the Museum. The vestiges of this era uncovered by the excavations of the Palace include a network of pools dedicated to the manufacture of ""garum"", a fish sauce that was exported from the Mediterranean to the whole Empire. For the circulation of the public between the Phoenician walls, floorboards supported by a lightweight metal frame are planned to enable them to walk between the ruins without touching them. The basement is generally in semidarkness, the lighting focused on the ancient walls. One display case contains pottery and other objects found during the excavations. The Museum has a unique relationship with the Roman Theatre and the Muslim fortress. The wooded space between them is designed to be the centre of a monumental area of exceptional importance, which reflects the entire history of the city and which must play a major part in the revitalisation of its historic centre.

Achievements

All the Museum's façades were coated with lime mortar. This material was selected because it adapts to the different media that existed in the building as well as the different finishes that we wanted to apply. The walls of the Palace building were of masonry and brick and a mixture of the two. The resulting irregularity made it necessary to use different thicknesses of mortar and for the mortar to possess good adhesive qualities. Parts of the new building had very high walls and were up to three floors high, which meant that the plaster had to be very flat. The use of mortar for both the external and internal surfaces allowed for different types of finishes, from rough to ultra-fine. As regards colour, ochre tones were used for the old surfaces and white to highlight the new ones, thus distinguishing the original buildings from the new build.