The Brazilian architectural practice Estudio America realised the new building of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile. The competition was arranged by the Chilean Ministry of Public Works, Dirección de Arquitectura, Comisión Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos. The monolithic building is based on two major elements: the Exposition Beam and the Base. The first, elevated and airy, forms the exhibition space of the museum. The other, the Base, in a first step deep as a mine, where the study, the production, the invention, the seminars, the knowledge of the land and the territory are located.
Here is what the architects explain:
“Along both sides of the Exposition Beam are the circulations, bathrooms and support systems, lightened by the translucency of the perforated copper plates and the second external skin, made of transparent glass, thus creating a totally controlled inner environment. On a second effect, the light also penetrates all the exposition space through the semi-opaque glass walls.
The manifestation, the flourishing of this knowledge is the contemporary objective of a museum. It appears from deep, well planted roots in the underground [the Base], from where the energetic, productive, mineral potentials appear; the solidity has the opportunity to manifest itself.
In the interior, the glass boxes, the necessary transparency, the vivacity; the memory lived in fragments, each one forming, altogether, the repertory of the idiosyncrasy of a nation. The mass is crystal.”
“The structure of the exposition beam presents itself integrally unique; without concessions it is an evidence of the elevation of memory. There will be an ethereal materiality, like a stone of Magritte. This way, like a tunnel, a metal patchwork presents itself as structure. The support of the elevated building’s body is located in four pillars incorporated to the vertical circulations on each edge. Over this great free span, the translucid exposition boxes, protected by the distance to the lateral borders, guarantee a controlled lighting for the Museum.
The materiality is also achieved with components that greatly represent the natural products of Chilean territory. The wooden floor generates contrast with the bright tones of the ceilings and the glass walls, paginated in a way that the internal Vierendeel steel beams [main structure] are apparent. Each part of the exposition space calls the eye to the relation with the city, and the two different views of the landscape. For the external surfaces, copper and coal mark the history of Chilean mining, as a memory of the economy, of doing and of living. The Museum is like a crystal stone which has in its steel the essential carbon for the existence of the human being and nature. Symbolically, the carbon is the register of what has been. It is also the memory of what could have been.”