The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), designed by London firm AL_A, was opened this month in Lisbon, Portugal by the Fundação Energias de Portugal (EDP) to coincide with the Lisbon Architecture Triennale.

The building is located within the Portuguese capital’s Belém area and next to the Tagus River. Spearheaded by Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete, AL_A’s design sees 15,000 three-dimensional, crackle-glazed, white ceramic tiles span an undulating roofscape, forming a reflective, rippling facade on the riverbank. While the rooftop terrace references the adjacent river through its flowing form, visitors can enjoy views of the 2,000-year-old São Jorge Castle courtesy from atop the cantilevered structure.

Such expansive views, however, would be a rarity in (or on) a building that adds 75,350 square feet of public space yet barely rises the equivalent of three stories. However, the museum’s four galleries can be found below ground, thus allowing the building not to tower above the low-rise Lisbon skyline. “In understanding EDP’s ambition for Lisbon, our design draws on the context of the site, creating both physical and conceptual connections to the waterfront and back to the heart of the city,” said Levete. “The waterfront is so essential to the project that the design literally reflects it. The overhanging roof that creates welcome shade is used to bounce sunlight off the water and into the Main Gallery, one of the four interconnected exhibition spaces.”

(Courtesy Hufton+Crow via AL_A)

(Courtesy Hufton+Crow via AL_A)

Despite the museum’s opening, the project not yet wholly complete. A pedestrian bridge coupling the museum (via its roof) to another gallery and restaurant nearby has yet to be finished. In addition to this, further public space will be added with a park area designed by Lebanese studio Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture. This is all part of the project’s second phase, scheduled to start in March next year.

Three of the aforementioned sunken gallery spaces will also be finished in 2017. Here, visitors will find work from Rotterdam-based architecture firm OMA and artists Aldo Rossi and Yona Friedman. Meanwhile, French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s Pynchon Park installation is now on display in the Oval Gallery as part of the Utopia/Dystopia exhibition that will run through into the new year. Pynchon Park occupies all 10,760 square feet of the gallery and invites audiences to engage and become part of the work in a “fun and intriguing way.”

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