“Boxes” hanging from the skylight go down to light up exclusively the sheet of water achieving a more tenuous and quiet space.
Spanish architects MID Estudio have converted a old grain store in Palencia, Spain, into a museum by blocking up windows and door with metallic and wood boxes on the roof and facade. Called Museo del Agua (Museum of Water), the building has been renovated to house a reception area, and temporary and permanent exhibition spaces.
The creation of the Museum of Water has made it possible to refurbish one of the stores in the dock. The building has a rectangular floor measuring 62,4×10,3m, concrete load-bearing walls with a brick sheet on the outer side and a repetitive rhythm both of doors and windows. Wooden trusses with metallic straps form the roof´s structure.
The proposal links the abstract content of the museum to the neutral continent by means of architectural language. A skylight which goes along the ridge of the roof gives sense to the different spaces of the museum bringing and qualifying light into each of them and providing the building of meaning. The skylight is superposed to the pre-existing structure but does not alter it and gets accommodated to its rigorous modulation. That way, both structures, the new one and the old one, complement each other. “Boxes” pending from the skylight bring light inside.
The program is divided in three areas: a reception area with administration and services, a temporary exhibition area and the permanent exhibition area. The building is long and narrow so it establishes a sequential route along the spaces where the visitor always discovers them in the same order.
After the access and the reception there is an exempt piece covered in glass so that it dematerializes with a game of reflections. It holds the administration, facilities, toilets and a small store. The visitor should walk around it to access the exhibition area of the museum. The light from the skylight reflects on its cover.
The space for temporary exhibitions is diaphanous and versatile and multiple activities such as exhibitions, conferences, etc can be held on it. The light coming from the skylight, changing throughout the day and the seasons, enters freely through it.
A sheet of water starts at the end of the temporary exhibition area and crosses the permanent exhibition space, situated at the end of the route, compelling the visitor to surround it. “Boxes” hanging from the skylight go down to light up exclusively the sheet of water achieving a more tenuous and quiet space.
At the same time, the permanent exhibition which will be carried out via interactive audiovisuals will be projected onto those boxes´ surface. The tangible presence of the water moving and the sound that it generates are part of the sensory experience of the museum.
Doors and windows of the existing building are now occupied by metallic and wooden devices. They are designed, like the skylight on the roof is, to drive and filter the light or to direct the visitor´s gaze to the water surface of the dock, as well as to create small spaces which now have the shape of peculiar bow windows where people on a visit can take a break.
Photographs are by Helena Velez Olabarria.