SO-IL designs Beeline as an ephemeral architectural intervention for MAAT, Lisbon

SO-IL from New York transforms Lisbon's Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in a landscape of encounters and conversations as it reopens post closure due to COVID-19.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Jun 16, 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).

A view of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
A view of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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.

Currents – Temporary Architectures by SO-IL</em> features the studio's 12 ephemeral and built projects  | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
Currents – Temporary Architectures by SO-IL features the studio's 12 ephemeral and built projects Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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’.

The intervention comprising semi-transparent vertical layers | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
The intervention comprising semi-transparent vertical layers Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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.

New entrance to the museum defined by Beeline | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
New entrance to the museum defined by Beeline Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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.

Interactive spaces conceived as part of architectural concept  | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
Interactive spaces conceived as part of architectural concept Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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”.

SO-IL has also designed a set of 15 mobile and reconfigurable art storage units scattered in various spaces of MAAT | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
SO-IL has also designed a set of 15 mobile and reconfigurable art storage units scattered in various spaces of MAAT Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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.

  • Beeline has been designed to host open-ended exchanges to examine the role of cultural institutions in the society at the MAAT | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
    Beeline has been designed to host open-ended exchanges to examine the role of cultural institutions in the society at the MAAT Image Credit: © Iwan Baan
  • Beeline has been designed to host maat Mode, a seven-month long experimental participatory public initiative | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
    Beeline has been designed to host maat Mode, a seven-month long experimental participatory public initiative Image Credit: © Iwan Baan
  • Beeline by SO-IL transforms the Amanda Levete-designed MAAT building | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
    Beeline by SO-IL transforms the Amanda Levete-designed MAAT building Image Credit: © Iwan Baan
  • SO-IL's intervention is the first exhibit to be showcased after the re-opening of MAAT on June 10 | MAAT | Lisbon, Portugal | STIRworld
    SO-IL's intervention is the first exhibit to be showcased after the re-opening of MAAT on June 10Image Credit: © Iwan Baan

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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