This is what the Macba extension will be like: diaphanous and with the Chapel in the centre

Harquitectes and Christ & Gantenbein win the competition organized by the museum

3 min
Perspective of the Macba extension

BarcelonaStudios Harquitectes and Christ & Gantenbein have won the competition for the MACBA extension with a proposal called Galeria, an open-plan building with an urban vocation, as was made public this afternoon. The jury, made up of 21 representatives from Barcelona City Council, the Generalitat, the Ministry of Culture, the Macba Foundation, the museum itself and the Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya, selected this project for its urban qualities in the context of the Raval district, giving a new response to the 1980 plan by Lluís Clotet and Oscar Tusquets, From the Liceu to the Seminary, transforming the Chapel into "a central element that articulates the public passage on the ground floor of the complex". This will translate into the fact that the Chapel, in parallel to its exhibition use, will become a main entrance to MACBA, like the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, and the transept will open onto the surrounding squares, Plaça dels Àngels and Plaça de les Caramelles, during the museum's opening hours. "It will be the museum's main space," says the project brief.

Macba Extension

Sabadell studio Harquitectes, best known for being the authors of the Lleialtat Santsenca and Casa 1413, and the Swiss firm Christ & Gantenbein, the authors of the Swiss National Museum, convinced a large majority of the members of the jury because it proposes a diaphanous building that will dialogue with the existing work of Lluís Clotet and Ignasi Paricio. The proposal offers a façade to the Plaça dels Àngels that is unitary and transparent enough to perceive the heritage elements of the church's apse from the square," the report also says. "It gives a coherent image to the whole complex with a rhythm of buttresses built in front of the existing ones". As for the three new exhibition rooms, which will be 31 x 12 meters, they will be housed in a volume like "a large stage box" that will be at the bottom of a lower terrace that can accommodate all kinds of activities. There will also be other rooms on either side of the large ones, which are intended for unique works and audiovisual installations. The budget for the extension will be €5.4m, not including architects' fees, museography and the purchase of parking spaces in Plaça dels Àngels. The total will be around €11m, and the works are expected to be finished by the end of 2023. "The urban dimension was the challenge, beyond making a good building," says Roger Tudó, of Harquitectes studio. MACBA will make an extraordinary contribution of €1.5m and the rest will be paid for equally by the different administrations that make up the museum consortium.

As Joan Subirats, director of the area of Culture, Education, Science and Community of the Barcelona City Council, says, the resolution of the competition opens a new period in MACBA after the Departments of Culture and Health clashed over the use of the Capella de la Misericòrdia. "We believe that the project also solves the management problems of the Plaça dels Àngels," says Subirats. The project is planned to be developed with the neighbour participation. "The process was difficult, but the result is magnificent, we are very excited," says the president of the Fundació Macba, Ainhoa Grandes. She also says that the citizen will be "at the center" in the new stage and that the new building will allow them to work more "locally". "The great interest of the project is that it is very successful in its relationship with the city, with a deep knowledge of the urbanism of the area," says the museum's head of architecture, Isabel Bachs. Of the Chapel she says that the winners give a "secular" reading and that they understand the action on the heritage, leaving the apse of the Chapel with a courtyard. At a neighbourhood level, Bachs highlights the new volume, which gives a homogeneous image to the whole: "It wants to be emphatic and at the same time act as a filter," says Bachs. The new MACBA will have a new public space: a terrace overlooking the square that can also be used as an exhibition space.

The entire new part of the museum will house the permanent collection. The ground floor of the Convent dels Àngels (1,000 square metres) will be given a new use and part of the parking spaces in the basement of the Plaça dels Àngels will be used to connect the new building with the Meier building, whose lobby will be changed.