Located in an up-and-coming area of Buenos Aires called Puerto Madero, the Museo Fortabat opened its doors in 2008 after six years of construction. It was designed by prominent Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly who attempted to integrate the new building into the scale of the old docks around it. A semi-cylindrical cover made from glass with sliding anodized aluminum parasols was designed to move with the sun to filter Buenos Aires’ strong rays. The innovative sliding top was engineered to stay closed during the day, protecting the art from direct sunlight, while at night pulling back to open the building up to the city.
The Fortabat Museum is made from steel, glass and concrete (this coincidentally also references Mrs. Fortabat who once owned Argentina’s largest concrete factory (Loma Negra), among many other businesses). Measuring 75,000 square feet, the art-filled shelter has a naturally lit lobby, gift shop, and a restaurant on the ground floor. Its five levels are filled with local and international works, and two lower rooms are actually set below the water so that the surrounding canals can provide natural insulation.
On the two upper levels visitors can spot the complex roof technology, which opens and closes with the touch of a button. Stylish details like a wooden ‘floating’ stairs to the sky give the building even more character. French Barrisol fabric was used instead of paint, which last longer, requires practically no maintenance and can hold humidity at bay to protect the artworks. Floors are made from a hardwood called Slavonia Oak that is strong, long lasting, needs no finishing, and also has a beautiful grain.
Mrs. Fortabat was a rich business woman who enjoyed art and throwing money at it. She collected art gems from around the world and even had her portrait made by Andy Warhol!
Photos by Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat