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  • Urban Cosmetics

    Oscar ABRAHAMSSON, "Urban Cosmetics."
    los angeles CALIFORNIA

    SCI-Arc
    critic: Elena MANFERDINI.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Oscar ABRAHAMSSON: Urban Cosmetics is a proposal for a new home for MASP (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo) in São Paulo.

    It utilizes the blankness of explicit geometric shape, urban décor and adornment, and new ideas of the urban ground in creating a museum that lowers the threshold between culture and life in the street. Urban Cosmetics is trying to find ways of re-introducing a sense of belonging and familiarity into the city by creating new models of urban life, whilst simultaneously dwelling within the context of urban fragmentation in the megapolis of São Paulo. Two simple triangular shapes constitute the building volume – forming new, elevated, grounds – habitable sloped planes that are displacing the urban ground onto the top of the building. Massive, opaque and black, the figure of the building merges in its muteness with the ground. No apertures are present to confuse the simple volumes. Natural light still pours in through the massive skylights established by the fake horizon lines on the top of each of the triangular shapes. Above the ”horizon” the skin is glazed but highly reflective, below, it is black, opaque, but soft in its reminiscence of interior padding.

    Décor is normally the adornment of a room or the inside of a building. Décor has historically been associated with the feminine, “women’s work”, and subjective proclivities, whereas architecture, seen as a more objective “science”, is associated with the public realm, the city, and a universal subject. By taking two elements of décor; upholstery and glass embossement, extracting them from their usual settings and transforming them into an exterior, architectonic expression, the project tries to overcome this reductive dichotomy, whilst utilizing the familiarity of the décor to lend a new sense of belonging to the urban context. The scalar shift involved in this transformation lends the project a surreal appearance as the facade treatment oscillates between reading as too-big and too-small, and introduces a new kind of urban decoration that envelopes its body and maintains a consistency with the building shape.

    The padded open-air slopes on top of the volumes caters for leisure activities like bar, restaurant terrace and outdoor performance space. The building thus broadcasts its activities out into the public, and makes the public participants of the life of the museum. The interior cascade of terraces around a void space caters for a giant semi-divided exhibition. The inside becomes like a landscape of art along the terraces, a long stair which connects a series of spaces and enables the visitor to move through space at their own pace. The projects alternative arrangements of interior and exterior present us with other possibilities in terms of how we occupy space and thereby, how we interact with one another.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    OA: The architecture of Oscar Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi; sculptures by Willy Verginer; paintings by Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama; Bob Somol; Jeff Kipnis; and Rem Koolhaas.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    OA: Reading Paulo Coelho and listening to Mø, Son Lux, and Röyksopp.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    OA: NL Architects, MOS Architects, and Daniel Norell/Einar Rodhe.

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