The team comprising the Barcelona studio Harquitectes and the Basel firm Christ & Gantenbein has won the competition to enlarge and reorganize the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA). A new building on Plaça dels Àngels will contain a gallery, hence the winning scheme’s title, ‘Galería.’ This proposal carried the day over the other four shortlisted, by Estudio Barozzi Veiga; Camps Felip Arquitecturia and Tuñón Arquitectos; David Chipperfield Architects and b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectura; and Caruso St John Architects with Bosch Capdeferro. In accordance with the competition rules, the entries arrived anonymously, each identifiable through a motto.

As the jury statement says, ‘Galería’ is “a proposal that exquisitely creates dialogue at different scales: with the neighborhood, with the city, and with the museum.” The museum’s new layer reformulates connections with the white cube that Richard Meier built in 1995, the square, and the Convent dels Àngels.

The project gives the museum an additional 3,000 square meters. It also adapts the Capella and the Convent dels Àngels as exhibition spaces. A first volume – low, long, and permeable – incorporates the building with buttresses by Clotet-Paricio. This gallery features the museum store, the entrance through the chapel transept, and a long glazed arcade. Two taller and more opaque volumes appear in the upper part: the chapel itself and the new container of art, which uses all its height to superpose three exhibition halls measuring 30 x 12 x 6 m. There will be a rooftop terrace with sculptures.

Through a structural and compositional logic, the new systems with large buttresses stitch together the buildings of different historical periods. The gallery’s buttresses, built with ceramic bricks, have white surfaces visually connecting with the Meier building. The front – to anyone arriving from Carrer Ferlandina – maintains the traditional brick materiality with which the entire extension will be executed.

The project uses the chapel’s cruciform plan connect Carrer d’Elisabets, Plaça dels Àngels, and Plaça de les Caramelles, linking circulation routes at ground level. The existing openings at the transept tips are elongated downward, all the way to the ground, to form two new entrances. A series of circular routes in the annex provides the necessary links to the Meier building, through actions carried out in the basement, and to the Convent dels Àngels complex, through coinciding levels.

Construction work is to finish in 2023, incurring a total cost of 5,445,613.86 euros.

Images: Filippo Bolognese