MALBA: a renovation based on fluid spaces

A milestone in architecture since its construction 16 years ago, the MALBA - Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires became one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.

The exhibition spaces of the MALBA - which over time included masterpieces of modern art from South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico - currently house a permanent collection of pieces of international importance.

In order to improve the visitors experience and convert it into a state-of-the-art museum, as a cultural center with different works, the Estudio Herrera - a studio based in Madrid, already active in the segment - has recently renovated MALBA.

The project

A general restoration program focused on the ground floor of the building, aimed at improving the access, communication and quality of the services offered to visitors. One of the main elements is the new development of the entrance and the reception area for the creation of an extensive central hall. This operation involved the leveling and renovation of over 1000 m2 of paving in order to create a surface that is perfectly linear and homogenous.

Regarding the creative vision underlying the guidelines for the renovation of the MALBA, the founder of the studio Juan Herreros tells: “The main aim was to transform the museum hall into an area that would meet the contemporary needs of visitors within a welcoming and all-encompassing space that could potentially become part of their daily life”.

The materials

For the MALBA, Herreros used a wide range of cement effect materials with an industrial style, creating a seamless environment. In particular, the sintered stone Neolith® Phedra was chosen for floorings and service floors thanks to its fresh and balanced tones, with grayish hues, which are in perfect harmony with the aesthetic ambitions of the architects

The finished floor resembles a paved road and creates a continuous surface that plays on the ambiguity of the role of intermediate point between the city (the exterior) and the exhibition space (the interior). The versatility of the material allowed its use also for the shelves of the museum bathrooms.

“Neolith was the perfect material to unify the various areas of the museum and meet every need of this space: suitability for high transit and for the covering of horizontal surfaces, shelves, walls and floors", Martin Torrado by Torrado Arquitectos - architecture studio of Buenos Aires involved in the project – adds in relation to the homogeneity that the surface has given to the space.

The inclusion of materials such as Neolith in this extensive review of MALBA enhanced the original opinion of the client and the project of Herreros, which wanted to offer to the public a museum for the future.