Miguel Rio Branco Gallery is a space within the Instituto Inhotim in Brazil. The site is located at the confluence of two roads, on a steeply slope surrounded by a natural forest on both sides. The building occupies a void in the forest, articulating different levels of the existing site.
The building is organized in three levels, with access through the intermediate level, which houses a covered plaza and support facilities. From this level, stairs and lift allow access to an exhibition space downstairs, defined by a square room formed of 11.7 and 11.7 meters by 7 meters height. This room is visually integrated with the entrance level through a transparent plan that allows crossed views through the room. From the entrance level another staircase leads to to the upper floor, housed in a closed corten box, with large flexible exhibition spaces, amplifying the curatorial possibilities while accommodating a large variety of rooms. While the interior room provides a visual interaction with the surrounding landscape through the transparency of its upper glass panels, the upper rooms define an introspective ambiance, with clear differentiation from the outside environment. Openings were conceived, providing indirect natural light in three of the four sides of the main room. The staircase also has natural light, reinforcing its role as a transitional space with a strong public character.
In order to enhance the mineral character of the main block, as suggested by the artist, its construction uses steel structure with steel seals with natural patina finish as the external walls. The patina favors subtle variations in color and texture of the surfaces of the main volume, marked by time and weather. To reinforce this characteristic, the project sought to minimize the presence of traditional architectural attributes, such as doors, windows, walls, roofs, dealing with the deliberate abstraction of the built element and manipulating the volume with subtle deformations defined by the various inclinations of the exterior steel seals.