After 30 years in a turn-of-the-century Porfirian villa, the renowned contemporary art gallery OMR decided to move to a new location. The chosen site was an existing brutalist building called Sala Margolin, originally dedicated to the sale of records and books. The building’s design consisted of a single large space covered by a coffered concrete roof slab under which the different sections of the store were organized by subtle changes in floor level. The roof was supported around the perimeter and by four slender concrete columns framing a central skylight, the most important light source for the space.
The design strategy was to preserve the existing building as much as possible. A central bathroom core was demolished and some interior details toned down so as to bring out the character of the building and transform it into a generous exhibition space. In order to provide the flexibility required by the client, the concrete floor was leveled and structural wall linings were applied to the interiors, allowing the hanging of substantial artworks anywhere within the 5.5 meters room height. Accompanying the main exhibition space on the ground floor are an access courtyard, reception, technical storage space and a rear garden courtyard onto which a bar opens.
▼高挑开敞的内部展览空间呼应着建筑的粗野外貌，a generous exhibition space with the character of the building
▼从展厅回望入口前台空间，view from the exhibition hall to the reception
▼从展厅看向后院，view from the exhibition hall to the rear courtyard
▼干净的空间没有任何装饰，a pure space without any decoration
A vertical extension accommodates supplementary programs in order to not compromise the existing spaces. This new top floor houses a multipurpose space, art storage, offices, a library, meeting room, kitchen and terrace. The newly built top floor is organized according to the structural scheme of the original construction, roughly forming a 9-square grid layout that provides a maximum of flexibility by allowing a variety of ways to subdivide space and distribute circulation. On reaching this floor, visitors discover the large multipurpose space that functions as an extension of the main exhibition gallery, a showroom, a work space and a place for workshops and lectures. In keeping with the position of the original skylight, the library becomes a new central light space that articulates all other functions. Facing the street is a more private space where the meeting room, kitchen, executive office and terrace are situated. The terrace is the result of a 4-meter setback of the top floor which functions as a mediating element towards the street, keeping the proportions of the original facade intact and allowing for a discreet intervention. A lateral staircase leads from here to the rooftop effectively creating an extension of the terrace during larger scale social events. In turn, this space has been conditioned to function as an outdoor workshop where part of the preparatory work for exhibitions is done.
▼顶层的多功能空间，the large multipurpose space at the top floor
▼占据了原有天井位置的小小的图书馆，the library in the position of the original skylight
▼图书馆承接着功能各不相同的数个空间，the library becomes a new central light space that articulates all other functions
▼办公室与露台，office and the terrace
By thickening the wall that faced the rear courtyard it was possible to resolve the vertical circulation to the new top floor without affecting the structure of the existing slab. This “thickened wall” – a mere two meters wide – allowed the accommodation of a mezzanine with bathrooms as well as the opening up of the newly added interior spaces towards the courtyard by means of a modern and paired down glazed facade. Built on site using standard steel profiles and arranged in rectangular modules this façade integrates projecting windows allowing for passive ventilation. In lieu of a fixed goods lift that would have required the perforation of the existing slab or the introduction of an extra volume infringing on the rear courtyard, the facade has an openable section that allows the movement of large format artworks to the top floor via a mobile lifting platform.
▼通透的立面上 一个个长方形窗格首尾相接，the windows are arranged in rectangular modules
▼隐藏在展厅与后院之间的竖向交通空间， the vertical circulation in-between the exhibition hall and rear courtyard
▼可以轻推开启的窗扇实现了室内空气的自然流通，projecting windows allowing for passive ventilation
The result is a sober project that amplifies the character of the original building whilst preparing it for a new cultural life without falling back on the international conventions of the sterile white cube.
Complete name of project: Galería OMR
Architectural project: Mateo Riestra, José Arnaud-Bello & Max von Werz
Collaborators / team: Javier Moctezuma & Oriam Morales
Built surface area: 455 m2
Structural engineering: Ricardo Camacho / DECSA
Service engineering: Taller 2m
Photography: Rory Gardiner
Location: Calle Cordoba 100, Colonia Roma Norte, 06700 Mexico City
Date: 2016 (February)