October of last year, I traveled to Lisbon Portugal to visit the 4th Lisbon Architecture Trienniale. As part of the opening the newly constructed MAAT (Museum of Art Architecture Technology) opened it’s doors to the public. The undulating structure, designed by AL_A is located on the River Tagus in the district of Belem, at the heart of an urban revitalization plan along Lisbon’s historic waterfront.
The kunsthalle is an unbelievably photogenic structure. Firstly, the textured facade is composed of 15,000 three-dimensional crackled-glazed tiles which takes its inspiration from Lisbon’s rich tradition of craft. Secondly, the complex blending surface allows visitors walk beside, over and under the building, allowing them to catch the perfect amount of sunlight for their personal architectural selfie.
The structure represents a new contemporary building for cultural discovery in visual arts, new media, architecture, technology and science. The flowing and undemocratic space brings visitors into, under, and up and over the structure. The more you discover, the more you are rewarded at the MAAT. When you climb the short summit you will take in 360 sweeping views of Lisbon’s waterfront.
This fictional environment or “zoo” takes up nearly 1000 square meters in the MAAT’s Oval Gallery. The proposed setting explores human culture combining dramatic, dystopian and experimental episodes. the interactive cycle takes place every 24 minutes allowing museum visitors to enter the stage. The artificial beach or theme park space is designed for accelerated leisure. While at the same time, the locked in sensibility evokes the current situation of refugees and migrants who are to this day fenced and concentrated in areas of the world.
The installation sets the perfect science fiction scene of sculpture, sound, light and performance unveiling hidden dystopia meanings fostered out of apparently innocent situations. The new alien structure is paired perfectly with a thematic exhibition that is ‘out-of-this-world’.