The New Leme Gallery was built in 2011 after the original space (Leme Gallery) was demolished due to commercial development on the old site. The new gallery is located only a few blocks away from the first one. Both buildings were designed in collaboration by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Metro Arquitetos Associadas.
The Old and the New
The first space was in fact so successful in its design resolution that the new gallery is a reproduction in addition to a new building, connected by a footbridge above.From many reasons, it was decided that the best solution was to remake the same project. The previous design was identifiable with the geometric planes constructed from thin reinforced concrete and had become a strong characteristic of the gallery.
The process of construction and redesign presented discussions about preservation of the architectural patrimony and the prevalence of the project over the constructed object, while simultaneously creating an opportunity to create an unexpected spatial experience.
The demolishing of the original gallery took place after the conclusion of the new building therefore offering a short period of time where it was possible to visit both galleries sequentially and they were only two blocks apart. A curious deja-vu effect naturally happened given the distinct characteristics imbued in both buildings.
Both of the new buildings were constructed with reinforced concrete. As the goal was to replicate the original gallery, using the same material was fundamental to maintaining that goal. This also meant new elements, such as the connecting foot bridge were constructed with the same reinforced concrete, as if it was a continuation, a growth from the original volume.
The support-building houses a big collection on the upper level along with a new exhibition room on the ground level. The additional bridge and the new open patio area connect the new additions, ensuring the design remains fluid.
The support areas are all concentrated within a strip to the side, making the distribution of electrical and hydraulic installations easier. The administrative areas have skylights and windows and are located over the exhibition rooms, which are between six and nine meters tall. Similarly to the first design, all the spaces are naturally lit with the design of inclined planes. The building is closed with big steel doors and glass.