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NUMU Museum

Santiago, Chile

Architects:        Jorge Swinburn
                          Rodrigo Searle
Marcela Puga                          

                          Juan Carlos Lopez
                          Gregorio Vasquez.
Collaboration: Hermann Rosenthal

A new museum for Santiago should be the echo of a new generation. Chile as society is beginning a
democratic and citizen turn that demands new spaces of inclusion and participation where everyone
can be part of a collective experience. The old idea of the museum as container for art detached from
urban dynamics should give way to a building capable of articulating with the environment and
integrating the existing life into the phenomenon of art and culture.
Contemporary art, like never before, is a reflection of the diversity of cultural manifestations typical of
society, surpassing the traditional boundaries of the “white box of exhibition”. New art needs other
spaces to display its message, new stages where art lovers and general public gather together in a
collective experience that encourage discussions on the issues that unite and separate us.
Our proposal is a neutral and rational architectural object that gives its prominence to art, people and
nature. The monumental scale and volumetric clarity make it a new point of attraction and reference
for Santiago while its structural rigor and mono material expression endow it with a timeless condition,
to last in time without coming into conflict with the formal trends of each era.
Through a structural operation the central body supports an exhibition plate that in turn floats over
the park like a large deck that multiplies the free and available spaces, allowing the park to enter and
art to meet the public.
The complete liberation of the ground floor at park level and the generation of a shadow of
unprecedented scale, allows complementary activities to art to be developed under the great eaves
of the NUMU, thus diluting the traditional categories that prevent the integration of different cultural
Materially nature is simple, each specie is the expression of its matter, nothing more and nothing
else. Our proposal integrates to the park not because of its shape but because of its expressive
qualities. A piece of homogeneous materiality, which as a rock, will age slowly. Meanwhile new
materials and skins doesn ́t age well, we propose a naked architecture, without artifice whose great
novelty is not in how it looks but in what it causes: that feeling in front of the immense and the
sensation irradiated by a building at the scale of the landscape.
The programmatic strategy is associated to the spatial structure of the museum. The massive use
programs are released horizontally thanks to the location of minor uses and services within the two
parallel cores that support the entire building.
The main function of the contemporary museum is to make compatible the exhibition and the creation
of new audiences through education. In consequence our proposal assumes the importance of both
programs giving particular conditions to each one.
All the exhibition rooms are contained in the same volume favoring horizontal traffic. This volume is
suspended over the park to generate the entrance trough the street level in order to enhance the
relationship between city and art, while the extension and educational programs are carried under
the park to produce a distance that encourages reflection, discussion and work around the themes
proposed by NUMU. This separation however is articulated by a large outdoor amphitheater
integrated to the park that creates the necessary transition between both traveling moments.
Between the exhibition and education is the park. Here the building disappears to give space to the
free movement of people around the great nucleus and amphitheater that connects the park and city
through the museum. In this level of mixed use -museum/park- lies the identity of the New Museum
of Santiago; a space to visit temporary installations, large scale sculptures and events associated

with NUMU that allow it to become a cultural institution that transcends traditional boundaries to other
means of local and international expressions.
We propose to multiply the landscape experience of “Parque Bicentenario” through the construction
of 4 new landscapes that articulate each of the exterior museum spaces.
Roof: Viewpoint
It is the connector place with de macro landscape. It refers us to the Andes Mountain and to the
surrounding hills through its materiality, where the use of crushed irregular stone with Mediterranean
climate vegetal species, typical of the foothills biome of Chilean central zone, seeks to generate local
identity. It is essentially a place of contemplation.
Access Level: Encounter.
The access leads us directly to a huge emptiness where the park presence is never lost, the proposed
vegetal green intends to give continuity to the landscape on east west way by using of low and
medium height vegetation that accompanies the visitor on their way to the interior of the museum.
The trees of the access level are Old World Sycamore present all along the side walk, to give
continuity to the “Paseo de Los Plátanos”
Park Level: Walk.
An aquatic bio filter garden is created on this level designed with a technical wetland system of
horizontal and vertical fluid. It seeks to favor wildlife through the purification of water with biological
Underground: Rest
A very green and fresh buried patio arises as an extension of the interior spaces of rooms and offices,
with a vegetation adapted to semi-shade, multi-crop and multi-layer. The proposed trees are
deciduous to favor the sun presence during winter time.

The structure proposed is completely made of reinforced concrete, configured with shear walls and
ribbed slabs. These walls arm the hard cores that transmit the loads to the ground through a
foundation slab with inverted ribs. Ribbed slabs mainly supported by 4 4m high beams extend from
the cores, from where the façade of the main body also hangs as a wall beam. In short, this unitary
reinforced concrete system allows to achieve a museum typology that completely frees its base in
favor of the public space with 15m overhangs in all directions.
The underground level replies the volume of the suspended plate functioning as a large buried base
that distributes the loads evenly to a weak ground due to the constant accumulation of water flows
produced by the Mapocho River’s affluent.
To us NUMU is more than the name of a new space of connection between art and public like any
other museum would be. Our project proposes a new dynamic between people, nature, art and finally
architecture. A colossal but silent scenery that floats over the park to create that in between space
where different identities freely mix up in a collective experience, phenomenon that definitely will
encourage the new Chilean Contemporary Art.

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