Technological innovations and global connectivity have revolutionized the accessibility of art in modern society. Museums, once the primary gateway to the art/public interface, are by necessity required to provide more than passive, exclusively visual interaction with their visitors. The concept explored in this design seeks to answer the question: “What is the role of the modern museum in today’s interactive society?”
The goal of the design was to turn the traditional museum concept inside-out. Rather than evoking a sense of times past, the design seeks to invite maximum public accessibility as an intimate, living, vibrant space.
Taking inspiration from the Scalinata di Spagna- the famous ‘Spanish Steps’- and the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, the design centers around daily pedestrian access to create a sense of the museum as an integrated part of the city itself. Everyday use of the museum would in turn invite a feeling of both comfort and ownership of the traditionally sacrosanct space on the part of city residents.
In order to successfully integrate the museum into the city, the focus was on extensive contextual analysis of the city of Memphis, and sought opportunities to bring the artwork itself outside the walls of the museum proper, marrying city and artwork in the public realm.
To generate the desired sense of ownership, research of the city of Memphis’ architectural history was required. The finished design incorporated ‘everyday’ finishes and structures from the architectural landscape of the city, but in heavily distorted
form to provide a new experience. A chain-link fence has been bent and folded to become a green screen. A cracked sidewalk is extensively fractured and serves as a retaining wall. The light patterns that move through the skin of the building evoke old barns and housing window patterns.