The building for the Pilar & Joan Miró Foundation in Son Abrines, Palma de Mallorca is in compliance with the express will of the painter - countersigned by his widow, Pilar Juncosa - to create a study center for scholars and artists in the city that was their home, as well as a venue for the exhibition and conservation of their private collections.
An analysis of Son Abrines led to the idea that the best spot for the new building would be somewhere between the path leading to the painter’s studio - a work of Josep Lluis Sert - and the road running along the lowest part of the property. The smooth slope of the almond yard keeps it from spreading out excessively, since its volume nests on this lower area.
The program for the Foundation - study center and gallery - is made manifest in the image of the building, which is composed of a linear element to accomodate the services of the study center and a star-shaped volume specially conceived to house the collection of paintings. The linear element runs parallel to the path leading to the painter’s studio. It is a modest white wall - just like Sert’s construction - that focuses our vision on the beautiful horizon of the sea as background, while freeing Miro’s house and studio from the indiscriminatingly placed constructions now standing in front of them.
The wall, in turn, acts as starting point in the path leading to the studio, and the visitor following it will be surprised to find a beautiful, dilated square before it. From here he can go on to explore the garden, an important part of the project which should help shut off the Foundation from its surroundings.
The figurative freshness intended in the interior must become outright literal in the exterior. Water is an essential element of the garden, where the traditional plants of the island will close ranks to form a dense, thick green space. The surroundings hence disappear entirely, but not Miro’s figures, the true inhabitants of the site. The garden - which will liven up with the installation of a cafeteria-restaurant - will make multiple access into the building possible.
The entrance to the Foundation pairs up with a spatious porch running the whole length of the building’s longitudinal arm. Having crossed the threshhold, the visitor comes across the reception area and staircase. Behind the reception are the various administrative services required by the program: a small office area, the director’s office and a boardroom overlooking the library from the highest level. From the office one can proceed to the computerroom by way of a private staircase.
In the space around the landing of the main staircase are the bookshop, temporary exhibition gallery and main gallery. All the principal activities of the Foundation are accomodated on the ground floor, which is level with the garden. Thus, the longitudinal construction houses the library, conference rooms, computer services and lavatories. The library is a large space with two levels and a gentle light from above complementing the direct illumination of the windows. The conference room, with raked seating, can accomodate a hundred participants. The building also has a basement with an access of its own, providing space for storage rooms, laboratories and services.
The gallery endeavors to come close to the work of Miró - a lifework that always celebrated freedom and life - by presenting itself as an undefmable and broken space, able to create an atmosphere true to the spirit of the paintings. Special care has been taken with the problem of illumination, which flows in through the gaps between the walls. These gaps are wide at some points, narrower at others, but nevertheless always able to turn into sources of direct natural light. The visitor has a full view of the place from the highest level, which is where he enters, and from there he descends to three different levels, all related to each other in the definition of the whole.
The project, hence, proposes a building adjusted to the circumstances offered by Son Abrines and linked both to the unique program and to the peculiar urbanistic conditions of the place. As far as we are concerned, it must establish an uninterrupted dialogue with the preexisting elements - studio, house, topography - and, in a special sense, with what in the short run will be its fundamental piece: the garden...[+]
Fundación Pilar y Joan Miró Pilar & Joan Miró Foundation.
Luis Moreno Mansilla, Luis Rojo, Emilio Tuñón; Rafael Balaguer y Antonio Esteva, dirección de obra site supervision.
Juan de Dios Hernández y Jesús Rey.
Mariano Moneo (estructura structural); Gustavo Álvarez (instalaciones mechanical and electrical); J&G Asociados (asesoría técnica technical).