Located in the area of the Casa de la Caritat, a former monastic enclave, the Museum of Contemporary Art creates a dialogue between the quarter’s historic urban fabric and the contemporary art within. The labyrinthine nature of the site's existing paths and routes is reflected in the building's organization, most notably in the main entry, which is paralleled by a pedestrian passageway between the museum's rear garden, and a newly created plaza in front of the Museum known as the Plaça dels Angels. The gentle fold of this circulation path emphasizes the centrifugal movement of the cylindrical lobby and describes a fifth facade, connecting the geometries of the Museum to an urban context characterized by skewed intersections and the domes of ancient churches.
Overlooking the Plaça dels Angels, the Museum's south facade displays a diversity of form appropriate to its rich context. The main entry is framed by an overhanging screen of planar elements and rectilinear windows, appearing to slide past a recessed terrace in the Museum's facade. Linked visually to this clearly defined entry by a transparent, horizontally articulated glass screen, the Museum's semi-detached sculpture gallery is enclosed within a billowing, curvilinear shell, a lyrical "monitor" wing resonating with the contemporary spirit of the Museum's collection and the expressive forms of the enclave's older character. Set back from these elements, a wall running through the building's length is sheathed with white aluminum panels, creating a division between the entry/circulation elements and the main gallery spaces.
The main entry is raised one meter above the plaza and is reached via a ramp running parallel to the facade. Once past this portico, visitors enter a cylindrical reception area overlooking the paseo. From this entry lobby, visitors ascend a ramp vertically unfolded within a triple-height hall. Extensively glazed and affording broad views of the Plaça, this transparent volume serves to orient the visitor, mediating between the Museum's public facade and the more closed volumes of the galleries. The louvered glass wall of the ramp filters natural light entering from the south. The visual extension of the exterior entry ramp through the triple-height hall locates the Museum at the nexus of this ancient quarter's pathways, guiding the visitor up through a sequence of exhibitions of contemporary art while maintaining a direct link with the historic urban fabric.
Large, open, loftlike gallery spaces have been designed to allow for both traveling exhibitions and the presentation of large works of art. In order to enter the main galleries visitors must cross over full-height light "slots," complete with glass-lensed floors. The louvered skylights above the main galleries illuminate the art below while describing the space as a kind of internal courtyard.
As befits an institution devoted to 20th and 21st century art, the Museum synthesizes the striking contemporaneity of its architecture and the accrued history of its context. The South-facing facade, overlooking the Plaza and the Convent of the Angels, emphasizes the play of solid and void, light and shadow. The fluid form of the sculpture gallery acknowledges the curve of the convent's chapel and the flat arches of its deep porticoes, while the glazed skin of the triple-height hall reveals the depth to which established patterns of movement can be taken in spaces defined by light.