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Cover: MusĂŠe National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris




Introduction by Joseph Rykwert


Interior spaces






Whether you first come to know her in

either. She even denies that she has any

person, or meet her indirectly through her

'design philosophy' or 'method' - certainly

work (small objects - like door-handles or

no 'style'. On the contrary, she always

lamps -, through stage design, exhibition

observes and examines the location of

displays, interiors, even whole buildings),

her work - she almost listens to a place -

the most striking thing about both work

before making her first move. When

and person is her elegance. Not, of

recreating an interior in an existing

course, the fatuous kind which follows

building, as she did at Beaubourg or at

fashion, but a severe elegance - in the old

the Palazzo Grassi, she makes an

sense - of always choosing the right, the

alternative architectural work inside the

appropriate thing for each situation:

existing structure, which she leaves - as

shape, material, colour.

far as is possible - Intact.

Elegance in that sense is also a kind of

Her first major trial was the MusĂŠe

economy, a frugality: severe, yes - but

d'Orsay, the cumbersome, eclectic old

also exhilarating. That is always true of

railway station on the site of the ancien

Aulenti's work. Her interventions are as

rĂŠgime ministry of Foreign Affairs.

minimal and unassertive as is possible.

The hub of the station was a heavily

She never seeks a 'trade-mark' effect

ornate glass-roofed train shed, whose

'radical1metal structure was masked by

century Palazzo Grassi, which was the

become - almost inevitably - a powerful

more conventional stone buildings roofed

work of the relaxed, antirigorist Giorgio

theme in those of her interiors and

with steep slate mansards. Those

Massari, the lining she provided for the

museum which are within pre-existing

surrounding buildings allowed Aulenti to

interiors (first used for the Futurist

buildings. But her particular development

devise a number of secluded spaces

Exhibition in 1986) is a spare, tense and

of it dramatizes the dialogue between

within - but she met the challenge of the

highly adaptable framework to

exterior envelope and the enclosure of

huge shed (which once spanned three

accommodate shows as varied as the

activity in a way which she shares with

platforms and six railway lines) by

Marcel Duchamp exhibition and a survey

several architects of our time - notably

creating an alternative, powerful

of Phoenician culture.

with Louis Kahn. She has developed this approach in her most important new

architecture rising up to meet the heavily coffered vault, to create 'homes' for the

In Barcelona Aulenti has had to meet the

building, the Palazzo Italia, which she

works of art, and give a new direction and

challenge of a building even more

designed for the Seville Exhibition of

articulation to the discarded central

unwieldy than Orsay. The vast, and even

1992. The sequence of spaces and the


more eclectic, Palau Nacional required

filtration of the harsh light of southern

the resources of an architecture

Spain restates the theme with all the tense

At Beaubourg a stable home had to be

commensurably more resilient than she

and spare felicity which have marked her

made for the permanent collection within

had devised for Paris. This battle seems

other work; and which at its best raises

the ultra-flexible open plan.

also to have been won.

elegance from a negative virtue into a

In Venice, working within the eighteenth

Architecture within an architecture has

positive and poetic power. Joseph Rykwert

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FOUNDATION "There is really no type or model for Art Museums in general nor specifically for Modern Art Museums. Instead we can talk about "Museum Architecture". I mean a methodological approach to understanding the different features of a museum: context, site, musĂŠographie content and objectives. Every case must take these points into consideration. Their relation and integration lead to the project".

M Ö Musée d’Orsay, Paris (1980-1986) “The theme of the Musée d'Orsay is the use of a building which is typical of the so-called industrial civilization: a railway station built in 1900 and its conversion into a museum. From a structural point of view it was an extraordinary piece of architecture for a station, and had the very strong decoration usual at that time".

"The station provided a basis on which to establish a new kind of architecture. A conflict arose, however, between old architecture and contemporary architecture, mainly due to the different purpose they each had; the point was that the travellers had to become visitors".


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MusÊe national d’art moderne ^ Centre Georges Pompidou

MusĂŠe National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1982-1985)

"Basically, the museum consists of a long gallery which runs along the entire floor. Reference to the town outside is given by two churches visible from the ends of the gallery. Along the gallery are placed the different halls - open or closed according to the collection they display - and the small galleries. A solution which enables all the necessary variants".






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"The Centre Pompidou consists of five

require renovation or conversion for

floors, each measuring 10,000 sq. mt.

another purpose, since it was a museum

Each floor is a large empty platform


without piers and with very low cross­

A change in perception of Renzo Piano's


and Richard Rogers' architecture was

The building had been erected five years

required: a new way of seeing the works".

earlier. It was neither obsolete nor did it

"The original, free and soi-disantflexible

In fact a work of art can not be displayed

conception was based more on an

as a document, a sculpture as a mere

ideology than on a specific architectural

object, a permanent collection as a


temporary exhibition".

Utopia was to transform this ideology into practice in the same way for all the disciplines.


Palazzo Grassi, Venice (1985-1986) "In the Palazzo Grassl, the aim was not so much to shape a new piece of architecture but to perceive the place as potential generator of different architectural devices". “Historical palaces are fragmentary evidence of the historic heritage of a city and of the collecting tradition. Analogy Is then the relationship between the existing building and our project. Our aim was to create a basic set enabling all the possible variations of the different exhibitions to be held there".

Ground floor

"Palazzo Grassi is not a museum, it is a location where to settle very different exhibitions, so it demands an extremely free installation system. Existing walls have been panelled with white surfaces which shelter the wire netting, can be plastered and are the "shape" of the Palace".

“There Is no a priori language. The architect should neither contradict what is already there, nor attempt to imitate it. In being autonomous and modern, he should discover the rules of the environment�.





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Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona (1987 - work in progress) "The Museu d'Art de Catalunya Is located In the Palau Nacional de Montjulc, built in 1929 on the occasion of the Universal Exposition. It was meant to be the solemn entrance and official headquarters and a part was also Intended to be a museum. Its academic style Is based on different regional Iberian mannerisms. The building was to be demolished after accomplishing its function. Instead it has become part of the Barcelona skyline and has therefore been preserved".

“Each area In the future Museum has been designed according to a dual system of relations: with the works to be conserved In the Museum, In line with Its function of preserving and exhibiting, and in relation to the architecture of the Palau Nacional".





Greater Istanbul Municipality Nejat F. Eczacibasi Art Museum, Istanbul (1992 - work in progress) "The existing building was a fezzes' factory built at the end of the 19th century on the Golden Horn and it will become a Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. It is now housing temporary exhibitions while creating its own collection of works".

"The previous architecture should not be regarded romantically but as a foundation ground. This means understanding its axes, dimensions, perspective and conditions, as the ground on which the new building will be created".

Palazzo Italia EXPO '92, Seville (1991-1992)

"Palazzo Italia Is surrounded by a high wall, symbolizing the walls around Italy's fortified cities and much of the Andalusian arab architecture. It is a sort of filter for the actual exhibition area and it provides shade and respite from the city's traffic. Its tower Is a reflection of Seville arab tradition."

Roof garden at + 25.40

Standard plan

INTERIOR SPACES "We have to recognize continuity of conceptual urban signs and especially of physical signs as the main essence of architecture, so that the structural sense of the place is revealed, instead of its mere appearance. Those signs might be not evident but time and care should be taken to recognize them".

"I never try to introduce shock stylistic

with the Modern Movement and its

elements, but to contrast old and new.


This is not Post-Modernism, it is continuity


" The large central court In Palazzo Grassi is the dynamic core. The visit turns upon the court in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction up to the first and second floor. From there the court remains a reference point - which is very important when visiting an exhibition - and gives multiple perspective views of the building".

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"The Palau Naclonal has an inconsistent spatial organization: the largest hall In Europe, four huge spires, an extraordinary dome, since it was first created as an official and representative building. Here, work must be undertaken through a series of polymorphic steps. The original nature and the new architecture to be introduced should be identified for each space. The central hall will become a large stepped square belonging both to the city and the Museum". Antoni Tapies,



"This space is the heart of the building,

It is an urban space itself; at the same

exterior, whose long walls are broken by

evoking the architecture of other Great

time it is an interior - a vast meeting place,

the rythmic structure of the perforations


a multi-level walkway for visitors - and an

like a building looking on to a city place".


LIGHTING "We have lighting as design, as an architectural instrument, and lighting as a functionally integrated factor. I think of architecture as a possible mean of filtering light, of modifying it. After all, the real problem is not how to create light, but how to create shadow...".

"Dealing with a very luminous building, brightened by sunlight all day long, we made great use of zenithal light. Also, given the ever changing light, typical of the weather in Paris, mechanical adjusting systems could not be used. So, we have allowed light to enter, but prevented it striking the walls directly. In the Impressionists Gallery, this has been made possible by using a series of reflecting walls, which divert light to the floor".




"Since the Palazzo Grassi is a space

This makes it possible to have light either

where temporary exhibitions are held, a

on paintings, sculptures and drawings

special system of 12 lights set into joints

according to the International standard

("sistema cestello") has been designed.


"Instead of illuminating the paintings, we decided to illuminate the walls where the paintings were to be displayed, thus making easier all the possible changes".

"The new architecture is imposed on the existing one. The point is to make perception richer and more productive. Relationships have to be created between the different types of interior architecture which express and take into consideration the nature of the presented content".

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BHHi "The problem in Seville has been how to

which acts as a barrier and contains the

mitigate the powerful heat and light. So

second structure which is the pavilion

we have created a pavilion consisting of


two buildings. One is the outer casing


PERCEPTION "When you visit a museum, you go there to work, since the museum is an accelerator of awareness, because the approach to a work of art is not a passive business. Questions keep arising: what is the work of art? How do I look at it? What is it trying to tell me? What did it mean in the period when it was done? What does the artistic act mean to a contemporary artist?"

HHHHHi li\ "In a large museum, orientation is a problem which cannot be solved by direction signs but has to work along with the architecture of the building. One has to get reference from the outside view - by looking where the sun is setting and at the same time, when moving inside the museum, one's location has to be as clear as possible".


"Architecture can not drive perception, as

routes are created, new spaces are

no architect may state behaviours.

designed - to be independent or related

Instead, architecture has to produce

to each other

interesting inputs for the visitors. Different


stopping or moving is

"The most difficult point is the relationship with the work of art viewed close, distant, on its own or together with other pieces, on a perspective view..."

MUSEOGRAPHY "Works of art are material units, they can not be considered for their expressive meaning - when not at an individual evaluation. The architect has to treat them as single items with definite dimensions, within a certain frame, with the horizon set by the artist at a certain height which may well determine how to hang a picture".







“Architecture is not linear: it is a matter of

necessary indications from the curator of

space. A chronological order, for

space. The architect gets all the

the Museum, but then he has to do with

instance, doesn't make sense".

“The room given to the Cubist Movement

the other rooms, with a series of columns

is unique, with very different connection to

which allow a more open view, but still

controlled by them",

“Museum architecture finds its identity

museography or in the art works a

and raison d ’etre in the encounter with

particular museum contains’’.

INSTALLATIONS "A museum is visited by great experts as well as by school children. An archaeological exhibition requires then a didactic commentary for visitors. In some cases, contents can not be conveyed in a direct way, so art is narrated by various techniques, working in a strict relationship with curators. Setting up an exhibition implies a full knowledge of what is to be narrated".

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“With a large concentration of works of art, exhibitions require to be seen and appreciated in as concise a manner as possible. They are like a passing drama in which the stage plays a relevant role�.



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"The Phoenicians was an exhibition in open daylight, in the sunlight, a sort of metaphor of the Mediterranean backdrop full of contrasting light and shadow. On the other archaeological exhibition, the Celts, everything was kept pretty much in the dark so as to give a general Idea of a green backdrop, like a forest with the diffused light of the North�.

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"I don't want to have a design philosophy. I want to understand all problems, the very different problems each project entails. Each one has its own context, occupies a new position and demands a new program and approach. There might be recognizable signs, I suppose, but I don't follow a "Gae Aulenti" model for everything I do".

Musée d'Orsay, Paris



curator: Michel Laciotte and coll. with Valérie Bergeron, Monique Bonadei, Giuseppe Raboni, Luc Richard, Marc Vareille and Emanuela Brlgnone (1982), Colette Chehab (1981-82), François Cohen (1984), Nasrine Faghi (1981), André Friedli (1982-84), Pietro Ghezzl (1980-82), François Lemaire (1984-85), Yves Murith (1983), Margherita Palli (1983), Italo Rota (1981-85), Jean-Marc Ruffieux (1981-83), Gerard Saint Jean (1984), Takashi Shimura (1980). Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglloni.

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1982-1985)

curator: Dominique Bozo with Italo Rota, Monique Bonadei, Marco Buffonl, Takashi Shimura, Chiara Vitali. Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglionl.

Palazzo Grassi, Venice (1982-1985)

curator: Pontus Hulten with Antonio Foscari and Francesca Fenaroli, Piero Russi. Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglioni.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona (1987 - work in progress)

curator: Xavier Barrai with Enric Steegmann and Valérie Bergeron, Monique Bonadei, Angela Gori, Giuseppe Raboni. Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglioni.

Greater Istanbul Municipality Nejat F.Eczacibasi Art Museum, Istanbul (1992 - work in progress)

with Resit Soley, Chiara Costa, Vittoria Massa. Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglioni.

Palazzo Italia, EXPO '92, Seville (1991-1992)


with Pierluigi Spadolini and Marco Buffoni, Vittoria Massa, Raffaella Pirini. Lighting system consultant: Piero Castiglioni.


Graduated in 1954 at the Faculty of Architecture, Politecnico in Milan. From 1955 to 1965 she was in the editorial staff of Casabella-Continuità, architectural review directed by Ernesto N. Rogers, and from 1974 in the editorial board and executive council of Lotus International. In the sixties she worked on "Composizione Architettonica" University courses with Giuseppe Samonà in Venice and Ernesto Rogers in Milan. In 1973 she took part to the International Conference of Design in Aspen. In 1976 to the ASID Convention in Atlanta and to the Women In­ ternational Congress in Ramsar, Iran. She has been often invited to give lectures and conferences in different countries. In 1976 started her collaboration with Luca Ronconi for figurative research at the "Theatre Planning Workshop" in Prato, Florence, on which a book has been published in 1981. She has been doing theatre stage design for works by Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen, also performed at the Scala in Milan, and for "Wozzeck" by Alban Berg and “Viaggio a Reims" by Rossini with Claudio Abbado and Luca Ronconi. "La Donna del Lago" at Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Is also directed by her. Her work is published in different Italian and international reviews and includes architectural projects, interior, industrial and stage design. In 1980 she wins the competition for the interior architecture of Musée d'Orsay in Paris, open in 1986. In 1982 she starts designing the new Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, open in 1985. In 1983 she is invited to the international consultation for the reutilization of FIAT-Lingotto in Turin. In 1985 she is commissioned to restructure Palazzo Grassi in Venice, open the next year, and there she has been designing the installa­ tion of different exhibitions, as “Futurismo e Futurismi", "I Fenici", "Andy Warhol", "I Celti, "Marcel Duchamp". In 1987 she is commissioned to restructure Palau Nacional de Montjuic in Barcelona to be converted into Museum of Catalan Art. Among her major works, since 1988, are the new access to S. Maria Novella railway station in Florence, the College "Città degli Studi" in Biella, the renovations of Palazzo Muti-Bussi in Rome, Palazzina della Casiglia in Sassuolo, Modena, University Institute "Suor Orsola Benincasa" in Naples and Palazzo del Governo in S.Marino. In 1992 she has realized the Italian Pavilion at Expo in Seville with Pierluigi Spadolini. She is currently realizing the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Istanbul and designing the ENEL "Museum of Energy" in Rome.

Main honors and awards: 1964

International Prize for Italian Pavilion - XIII Triennale, Milan


Honorary Member of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID)


"Ubu Prize" for the best itallan stage design 1978, Milan


"Medaille d'Architecture" from the Academy of Architecture, Paris


Prize "Josef Hoffmann 1983" from the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst, Vienna


Title "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" conferred by the President of French Republic


Title "Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres" conferred by the French Minister of Culture


Special Prize for Culture conferred by the President of the Italian Council of Ministers


Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)


Honorary member of the Bund Deutscher Architekten (BDA)


"Praemium Imperiale" for Architecture by The Japan Art Association, Tokyo

Museum Architecture is one of a series of books published by Edizioni Tecno with the aim of promoting excellence in architecture and design. RICHARD ROGERS PARTNERSHIP Lloyd’s of London THE YRM PARTNERSHIP On making a building OVE ARUP AND PARTNERS Technology In architecture GROUP PLANNING PARTNERSHIP Vision and Reality BUILDING DESIGN PARTNERSHIP Expressing corporate personality CONCEPT GROUP HENK QE VRIES Architecture of integrated design HARRY SEIDLER & ASSOCIATES Towers in the city BENTHEM CROUWEL ARCHITEKTEN BNA Structure & Transparency ATELIER D. J.M. de LAMINNE / A. GILLET & PARTNERS Biocllmatics and Lighting LUCA SCACCHETTI, 7 5 -’90 Walking in different ways SOM (SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL) Reality before reality RICARDO BOFILL/ TALLER DE ARQUITECTURA Barcelona Airport GAE AULENTI Museum Architecture

Editorial coordination: Milena Archetti, Studio Gae Aulenti Marco Squarcini, Centro Progetti Tecno Texts: all texts are taken from Gae Aulenti’s statements, lectures and interviews Photos: Sergio Anelli, Electa Milano Arici & Smith Gabriele Basilico Eugenio Botili Mario Carried Piero Castiglioni Carla De Benedetti Mimmo Jodice Studio Azzurro Dario Tettamanzi Gianni Ummarino Cover photo: Carla De Benedetti Graphic Design: Armando Chitolina Printed by Grafiche Mariano © copyright by Edizioni Tecno Acknowledgments: Thanks to Musée d'Orsay Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya Greater Istanbul Municipality Nejat F. Eczacibasi Art Museum Oficina Tècnica, Barcelona i Guzzini Electa for giving permission of reproducing their photographic materials. Special thanks to Monique Bonadei, Studio Gae Aulenti for her precious help. All drawings in the book were provided by Studio arch. Gae Aulenti.

Tecno spa 20121 Milano (Italy) via Bigli 22 tei. 02 76020341 fax 02 784484 Edizioni Tecno 20039 Varedo (Mi) via Milano 12 tei. 0362 5351 fax 0362 535220

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