Lina Bo Bardi 100
Brazil's Alternative Path to Modernism

Exhibition Design
Architektur Museum der TU München
13.11.2014 - 22.2.2015

Lina Bo Bardi in the Present: On the Conception of the Exhibition

Published in 2014 in the Exhibition Catalogue. 


Online catalogue 

Communicating the spirit of Lina Bo Bardi’s work at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich begins as a process of translation. The dialogue between two different moments in time and two very distinct cultures is an opportunity to establish a link between an architecture that speaks to ways of living beyond architectural form, and a museum audience that is free to encounter the architect’s work without precedents of cultural familiarity. The Architekturmuseum der TU München at the Pinakothek der Moderne presents this exhibition as part of a narrative that approximates architecture discourses to its social dimension. Lina Bo Bardi 100: Brazil’s Alternative Path to Modernism appears alongside a series of exhibitions by Andres Lepik (Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement; Afritecture: Building Social Change; The Good Cause: Architecture of Peace—Divided Cities), which compose a discourse of change and mobilization. This encounter with the architect’s work outside Brazil is intensified by a condition of cultural detachment. In reinforcing this distance, instead of erasing it, a background for interpretation and discovery is laid out in search of new insights in architectural practice; ones that could help build up an understanding of our present, while fostering a debate around the definition of architecture’s purpose and its potential role in revealing cultural identities.

The responsibility to convey the noble simplicity that Bo Bardi’s work inspires has been a major challenge and objective in the design of the exhibition space. In trying to get closer to the aura of her work comes the realization that it is impossible to mimic the atmosphere of her architecture away from its place. The design has therefore detached from the intent to mimic Bo Bardi’s language, but tried to work with local crafts and materials to compose a background for viewing, which helps the visitor connect with her original drawings, avoiding to visually compete with the exhibition content. The chronological overview of the architects’ work is presented as a journey or path. The visualization of original drawings done by hand, as an excursion into the architect’s way of thinking, is determining of the exhibition structure. The scale of her original drawings have led to a sequence of spaces which can allow for visual refocusing, a certain erasing, or visual clearing, through passages and transitions along the journey.

The installation placed inside the three longitudinal galleries of the Pinakothek der Moderne looks to reveal its strong spatial qualities: a sequential linearity of a certain monumental scale in its generous ceiling heights and five-meter-high doors, which act as portals. New spatial separations were unavoidable to accommodate the exhibition content and compose a chronological narrative. It was necessary to occupy the gallery’s interior with new surfaces, but it was important to allow them to be perceived as temporary, not merging with what is permanent. The walls do not touch. This detachment is reinforced by material contrast: the light paper walls and heavy Ytong walls are clearly different from the permanent building hosting them. The printed paper surfaces combine the effort of screening vision with reproducing text, photographs, and drawings. The heavy central wall is stabilized vertically on its own and reveals the process of making as modular stacking and assemblage, frequently hidden in smooth museum surfaces. It was important that the architecture of the exhibition does not appear as a foreign translation, but is tied to local resources and crafts. Although this is not envisioned as a traveling exhibition, the possibility of accommodating it at a different site is left open, as the modulation of paper panels and Ytong pieces allows for different configurations.

The architecture of an exhibition about architecture poses the challenge of a self-referring content. What is built is about what is being built, even when it is understood as a background. The paralyzing challenge to design a space to host Lina Bo Bardi’s work is balanced by the need to react to the architecture of the Pinakothek. The disappearance of the architecture, as an envelope that serves the viewing of objects, may be seen in opposition to the expression of a given place or the creation of a distinct spatial experience. The design of the Lina Bo Bardi 100 exhibition in Munich is a mediation between these two intents, understood as a translation, between the realms of the architecture it presents to the public as its content, and the experience of the place in which it is sited. Place understood as space, culture, and materiality at once.

Collaborators: Fernando Lage 
Client: Architecture Museum TU München
Curator: Simone Bader
Location: Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich.
Graphic Design: Marina Correia and Ana Marini
Wall Writing: Juliane Kownatzki (Coordination) Elisabeth Bauer, Andreas Gallasch, Christin Kummerer, Kathrin Marx. Collaborator: Andre Pereira
Photos: Architecture Museum TU München and Marina Correia