The municipality of Boticas, Portugal, will inaugurate the Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso in Spring 2014.
Designed by New York based architect Louise Braverman the museum fuses a light contemporaneity with the rich materiality and sustainability of Portuguese design to honor the artist Nadir Afonso (1920 – 2013).
As well as paying homage to the artist, the Centro is also intended to serve as an engine driving economic, cultural and community development in the small medieval village in northern Portugal, about 20 miles south of the Spanish border.
Braverman sliced into a steep hillside in downtown Boticas to create the new museum, which she divided into two distinct, but connected, parts: a light-filled cultural center looking out upon the intersection of a national highway and City Hall; and, nestled in the back, a vast, below-grade exhibition space topped by a green-roof park.
In the double-height entry hall, a photomural of the artist and a continuous band of his sketches provide punches of bright color visible from the street. From here, visitors enter the exhibition hall, outdoor café and children’s play area. Going up they may gaze into the curtain-walled entry hall or proceed in the direction of a large window on the façade balcony. To the left of the balcony are an auditorium, a multipurpose library and offices.
The heart of the museum is the loft-like gallery devoted to a changing selection of works by Afonso from the Nadir Afonso Foundation. Like the exterior of the building, the interior white concrete perimeter walls of the exhibition space celebrate the stellar tradition of Portuguese concrete masonry construction. The double-height, white concrete wall and ceilinged space is embedded into the hillside and topped by a sustainably planted green roof park.
Since the museum’s interior exhibition walls are considerably shorter than the exterior walls, visitors will always be able to view the art against the layered background of a rustic stone surface. The closeness of the wall to the interior also blocks direct sunlight from entering the gallery and reduces the carbon footprint. Partial height, freestanding interior partitions encourage the perception of an indoor/outdoor layering of space.
Casual social interaction is encouraged at every step. Large glass windows on opposite sides of the exhibition hall allow visitors to glean glimpses of the art from the adjacent outdoor café and auditorium, while the green roof park, which has been designed in the spirit of Nadir Afonso’s colorful geometric patterns, is designed for play. The design of the concrete exterior auditorium adjacent to the site’s stepped path augments this informal civic engagement for it creates a venue for visitors to sit down and mingle.