Project Type: Theoretical Construct

Advanced Design A / Nancy Sanders

Spring 2011 / updated November 2017



Two elements, in terms of experience, can be so different.  When one experiences a piece of tree bark, our mind perceives it as a unifying element that is only capable of change by growth and decay.  Picasso’s works of art are a deconstruction of an object; when one experiences Picasso’s paintings, one’s mind engages with broken parts of the object.  When I overlayed Picasso’s deconstruction on a piece of bark, visually, they change each other’s conditions to create a new experience.  The attributes of the wood give Picasso’s paintings strength and unity, and Picasso’s paintings give the wood the possibility of deconstruction.  Each image gives the other one what it lacks; there is no longer a separation, but a transition, a unity between the two.


Natural rock formations “Hierve el Agua” located in Oaxaca, Mexico became the site for a pavilion emerging from Picasso’s Cubism.  The same process used in the found object analysis was used to deconstruct the site.  The main objective was to de-stabilize the site by changing its strong essence of solidness into one broken abstraction.





The parti drawing, shown above, is the beginning of the reconstruction of the site. The spaces of the museum that begin to be carved within the site are the result of its de-construction process. The subjective character of the site reflects on its very surface; a unified relationship between its form and its architecture becomes the language and the idea behind the entire design process for the Museum of Picasso’s Cubism. To maintain Picasso’s paintings character within his museum, an image of one of his most famous works, “The Standing Woman,” was overlayed in an image of the site; this process led to speculation on the different spaces happening below ground. At this point, the spaces above and below are to become one with the context surrounding them.MA_ADVA_process10MA_ADVA_process6


The ideas behind the parti drawing are translated into an architectural language developed in process study models. The objective of the study models was to integrate even more each of the museum’s gallery to the voids created on the site’s reconstruction process. The walls and the floor of each gallery were articulated using a composition of Picasso’s paintings. The tectonic forms and more articulated surfaces within the small scale gallery are projected within the artist; the notion of each space is projected within the art to be celebrated.

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Programmatically, the galleries carved into the site are unified by the main circulation atrium. The body moving through space begins its journey at the upper level of the rock formation. The first moment of the entrance has a strong relationship with the outside, while you start experiencing the notion of the galleries below, you have an open view of the surrounding in front. As you start stepping down the circulation atrium, you have a reveal of each gallery but not its experience as a whole; mystery is an important notion that must be felt within this atrium as every piece of art carries a sense of mystery within itself. It is the purpose of its audience to explore the spaces just as it is to explore the paintings. The encountered galleries as you journey down have a particular relationship with the site. The levels below ground has two ways of experiencing the site; one is from an enclosed and completely separated volume inside the museum, and the other is by walking outside, the body in space is moving through the true nature of the site, with no man-made materials altering it. Some of the walls of the galleries are the natural rock formations. There is communication between the natural walls of the site and the paintings that are displayed in the galleries, as they have a similar language.



The outside of the museum is to be experienced as one unified element that makes a gesture to the site. A thick concrete wall anchors the first level going down to the last level underground and folding to direct the body in movement to the outside again; this wall is meant to communicate with all the spaces as a whole, while the outside folding layered is only parallel to each gallery space engaging it. The outside layered is articulated to allow slips of light to spaces inside the museum that are not entirely enclosed.


Picasso’s Cubism Museum and its site are a vanishing point, where nothing can be distinguished or separated when experienced; the architecture and the site are two registers enabled to their own description and resistant to it. It is this dialogue that creates the conditions for such experiences, the same conditions and the same experience that are perceived when looking at Cubist art. A sense of vertigo and loss of the self in Picasso’s work creates the possibilities of these experiences. Vertigo is a metaphor for the way relationships within images can de-stabilize apparently stable, strongly unified ideas.






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