CASE STUDY: Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)


Lina Bo Bardi




Since its opening, MASP has established itself as one of the most popular public spaces in the city of São Paulo. By dividing the program into one part below grade and one part above grade, Bo Bardi created an uninterrupted flow of public space, changing the traditional relationship between civic building and public space from ‘next to’ to ‘underneath’. Commissioned by the city of São Paulo during a period of great artistic as well as economic growth, the art museum replaced an old belvedere and ballroom and was required to preserve at grade the view of the valley to the rear of Avenida Paulista, hence the lifting of the 75 metre long Brutalist building above the ground. The resulting space has been used for a wide variety of activities, from political to cultural to commercial, many of them independent of the museum’s occasional programming of the space. In her own words, Bo Bardi’s intention was “[t]o make a poor architecture with free spaces that could be created by the collective … That is, formally and architecturally ugly, but that would be a usable space, that would be something that could be taken over by men [sic]” (1969).

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