IMS Sao Paulo

The Moreira Salles Institute is a consolidated institution with strong presence in the cultural scene in Brazil.

Despite holding a precious collection and experience in the promotion of exhibits and cultural events, IMS didn’t have, until now, an exhibit space consistent with its possibilities in Sao Paulo. The new headquarters meets the concrete need for more space, but certainly is much more than that: above all it arises from the desire to create a place that can represent the values and transmit the spirit of the institution. The new headquarters of IMS was designed for the programmatic and symbolic needs of the Institute.

We devised an accessible museum, anchored in the present day, which offers a frank and direct relationship with the city, while simultaneously providing a warm, tranquil internal setting; a museum able to balance the excitement of the sidewalks with the scale and nature of museological spaces; an environment with precise and peculiar top-quality lighting and time perception; finally, a museum able to provide a unique, subjective experience to visitors.

IMS is located in Paulista Avenue, which is one of the rare places in the city where we can find a huge variety of people and programs living in the same place. One of the few places where we have a mixed, plural, and more democratic city. This rare quality coupled with the generous scale and the privileged geographic situation makes Paulista Ave. one of the most interesting and lively spaces of São Paulo.

The lot, 20 x 50 meters is flat and surrounded by buildings from 13 to 18 floors on all sides: a gap in the sequence of volumes profiled along the avenue. A truly extraordinary location. On the other hand, when we are inside the lot, at the sidewalk level, we realize that the space offers few openings and connections with the surroundings. The questions we posed at the beginning of this analysis arise again: what is the relationship we want to establish between the museum and the city and how does this decision affect the articulation of the internal spaces of the museum?

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The solution was to transfer the ground floor of the museum – its main articulating element – from the bottom to the center of the building, fifteen meters above the level of Paulista Avenue, creating an entirely new open relationship between the museum, the city and its inhabitants . With this shift, we have left a claustrophobic and restricted condition imposed by the limits of the lot, to gain the views of the city, while creating the possibility of a new articulation of the internal spaces of the museum. This operation also has the effect of releasing the level of Paulista Avenue for it to function in conjunction with the first underground level as a platform for distribution of the various ciculations that feed the building. Designed as a large urban hall, the level of Paulista Avenue becomes an extension of the sidewalk, leading the visitor through the escalators and elevators to the heart of the building. The first transition occurs from the scale of the city to the scale of the museum. Along the way, the sounds and bustle from the street are attenuated, and the intensity and nature of the light change, until you get to the elevated ground floor overlooking the city, which opens a totally new perspective. Released from a too close and direct confrontation with the street, it was possible to create a vibrant space full of energy, yet, adjusted to the intensity and environment desired for the museum. The scale and time have changed. We are inside the new IMS.

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