MAAT designed by AL_A is an outward-looking museum located on the banks of the Tagus in Belém, Lisbon the district from where the Portuguese great explorers set off.
Proposing a new relationship with the river and the wider world, the kunsthalle is a powerful yet sensitive and low-slung building that explores the convergence of contemporary art, architecture and technology. The new building is the centrepiece of EDP Foundation’s masterplan for an art campus that includes the repurposed Central Tejo power station.
Blending structure into landscape, the kunsthalle is designed to allow visitors to walk over, under and through the building that sits beneath a gently expressed arch – one of the oldest forms in western architecture. The roof becomes an outdoor room, a physical and conceptual reconnection of the river to the city’s heart – where visitors can turn away from the river and enjoy the vista of the cityscape, and at night, watch a film with Lisbon as a backdrop.
Below, the exhibition spaces are extensions of the public realm, with flowing interconnected places for experiences and interactions at the intersection of the three disciplines. These spaces complement the galleries of the converted Central Tejo building. Building on Portugal’s rich tradition of craft and ceramics, three-dimensional crackle glazed tiles articulate the façade and produce a complex surface that gives mutable readings of water, light and shadow. The overhanging roof that creates welcome shade is used to bounce sunlight off the water and into the building.