What If You Could Walk Up the Face of a Museum?
Museum of Image and Sound / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A narrow infill site on the Roberto Burle Marx–designed promenade fronting Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

The six-story museum building houses exhibition space, administrative areas, and workshops, as well as a restaurant, piano bar, auditorium, and rooftop movie theater designed for a Brazilian contemporary arts and education nonprofit organization.

The façade and building massing are defined by a series of ramps that climb up from street level. This extends the beachfront promenade into a sort of vertical boulevard that serves a functional as well as programmatic purpose: The exterior ramps allow patrons to access amenities such as the restaurant and rooftop theater after the museum galleries have closed. This impressed juror Sarah Dunn, who said, “The level of ambition here is very high.”

The building skin features a choreographed progression of expanses of glazing and small apertures. Carefully arranged to curate the view from inside the building, these windows showcase views of the sky, water, beach, and street—four defining elements of the area. Aiding in this view strategy is the fact that the building’s core is located at the western edge, allowing the bulk of the building facing the beach to be open to varied glazing.

The interior is organized around central voids. Ramps and stairs connect split-level exhibition spaces and a projection gallery. The intermingling of these display spaces with retail and entertainment areas creates a vibrant atmosphere. Which is fitting, because, as juror Stan Allen put it, “If there’s a place for exuberant architecture, it’s the beach in Rio.”

Project Credits

Project Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro
Client Fundação Roberto Marinho
Designers Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York—Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro (principals in charge); Ben Gilmartin (project leader); Chris Andreacola, Charles Curran, Felipe Ferrer, Ben Mickus, Patrick Ngo, William Ngo, Matt Ostrow, Eric Rothfeder, Scott Shell (project team)
Size 73,500 square feet