Overlooking the Bahia de Todos os Santos, in Brazil’s former colonial capital, the Solar do Unhão gathers several structures dating back to the 16th century. Lina Bo Bardi proposed preserving the ensemble – threatened by the construction of a expressway – to build the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (MAMB). The program, which includes a Documentation Center on Popular Art and a Technical Studies Center, goes beyond the traditional notion of museum, combining exhibition spaces and pedagogical programs, bringing together primitive handicraft and modern industry.
Bo Bardi chose not to recover the ensemble’s original state and instead integrated the alterations it underwent over the course of the years. However, her approach to heritage went beyond mere preservation. A series of supporting structures were selectively demolished to clear an esplanade facing the sea, and new elements were added, such as the spiral staircase. To give the whole complex a unitary image, the walls were painted white and the frames were painted red. Inside, braided panels were added to establish permeable partitions between the different rooms.