by Sukanya GargJun 17, 2020
Architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu of New York-based SO-IL studio have created Beeline, an architectural intervention comprising semi-transparent vertical layers, inside Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT).
Part of the intervention is an exhibition titled Currents – Temporary Architectures by SO-IL that features 12 ephemeral and built projects conceived by the studio over the last decade. The works have been categorised as six thematic pairs or ‘currents’ and transform the Amanda Levete-designed building in a landscape of encounters and conversations. Through models, 1:1 scale project mock-ups, books, and graphics, people are taken through the entire journey of the studio.
Beeline has been designed to host maat Mode, a seven-month long experimental participatory public initiative holding open-ended exchanges to examine the role of cultural institutions in the society and further to arrive at prototyping of the future museum. MAAT director Beatrice Leanza describes the programme as a ‘transformative gesture that repurposes the museum in a polyfunctional civic arena where public life is debated, probed, challenged and possibly inspired towards a more inclusive and equitable making of the future’.
With Beeline, SO-IL has designed a set of 15 mobile and reconfigurable art storage units that have been scattered in different places of MAAT. These units collectively titled The Peepshow – Artists from the EDP Foundation Portuguese Art Collection reveal a repository of archival and personal projects by artists such as Paulo Mendes, Pedro Gomes, Catarina Botelho, and others from the world over.
More than just a showcase of displays and gathering venue, Beeline has chalked out a new access point for the museum, which previously had only one entrance facing the riverfront. Now a temporary ‘clandestine’ entry connects the city to the river and allows visitors a seamless path from both ends.
Various other commissions also dot the museum. These include artist Claudia Martinho’s Extinction Calls, which introduces a changing sound landscape comprising voices of many critically endangered and extinct bird species.
In other places, French designer Sam Baron has designed a communication system that aids visitors return with respect to the regulations. “This three-dimensional, low-tech system,” reads a statement by MAAT, “permeates the sites of the museum with a gentle yet unique design language made of reconfigurable modules using common bricks and reflective surfaces with a personal graphic language to remind visitors how to respect current rules”.
Following a prolonged closure due to the outbreak of COVID-19, MAAT welcomed visitors on June 10, 2020, to unveil its new face which is part of the programmatic transformation helmed by director Beatrice Leanza, who joined the museum in 2019. The reopening of the museum coincided with the national celebration of the Portugal Day.