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Lisbon architecture triennale 2016: MAAT (the Museum of Art Architecture and Technology) is a new institution designed by Amanda Levete currently nearing completion on the banks of Lisbon’s Tagus river. With work in Portugal now reaching its climax, the building is set to open its doors this October. Led by director Pedro Gadanho, MAAT will explore contemporary culture through visual arts, new media, architecture, technology, and science. ‘MAAT not only supports Portuguese artists,’ explains Gadanho, ‘but also local curators who are important figures in the cultural development of a place, as producers of content and relationships.’

The building forms the focal point of a campus that hosts EDP, a prominent cultural foundation. Housed within two buildings — the new Kunsthall structure, designed by AL_A, Amanda Levete’s London-based architecture practice, and a newly renovated power station — MAAT will present a permanent science and electricity display, as well as a wide-ranging program of temporary exhibitions.

The new building allows visitors to walk over, under, and through the museum complex, with a roof offering sweeping views towards the river. In this way, the scheme seeks to restore the historic connection between the city and the water. By drawing visitors from the heart of Lisbon to the views along the Tagus estuary via a new footbridge, MAAT seeks to regenerate this riverfront area.

Steps that lead down into the river are covered with water at high tide, creating a constantly changing environment. Above, an overhanging façade covered in 3D tiles is a reference to Portugal’s rich tradition of ceramics. While the cantilevered structure provides welcome shade, it also reflects sunlight off the water and into the building, tracing the shifting patterns of the tidal changes. MAAT opens to the public on October 5, 2016 with a 12-hour program that features exhibition openings, educational events, performances and music performances.

The inauguration of the MAAT on October 5th falls coincides with the opening of the 2016 Lisbon architecture triennale. On this occasion, the cultural institution has co-produced and will host one of the event’s four main exhibitions — ‘the form of form’ — and will act as a ‘meeting space’ that can demonstrate the meaning of form in architectural design, past, present and future.

Design: Amanda Levete
Photography: Hufton + Crow

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