SÃO PAULO – Vila Madalena has been a hub for the arts in São Paulo ever since students migrated to the area during the 1970s. Today the neighbourhood’s streets are peppered with galleries, its walls awash with street art and graffiti. A recent project by local firm ARKIZ adds to the vibrant creative scene in Vila Madalena, converting a mechanical workshop into a fresh gallery space for Blau Projects. Pass by too quickly, though, and you might miss it.
What the gallery lacks in frontage – its street-side façade is nothing more than a single-car garage door – it makes up for in depth. A long, narrow pocket park now leads visitors toward a secluded entry to the gallery’s two exhibition spaces. Deeper in the building, a selection of artworks is stored in a series of vertical, track-mounted panels that slide out into the collection room for review. According to the designers, the building’s ‘industrial character and the shape of the site, with a long corridor connecting to the street, served as inspiration for this distribution of program’.
ARKIZ also preserved visual remnants of the site’s industrial heritage. While the renovated exhibition spaces are bright and refined, they maintain the slight roughness of exposed trusses and corrugated steel that hint at the building’s previous use. Even the gallery’s new infrastructure is left raw and exposed, creating a visible, albeit subtle dialogue between new and old.