Material Focus: MAS Museum

Glass is used in many buildings as a means of connecting visually with the inside to out and vice versa through fenestration and curtain wall systems. An innovative application of the material occurs in the design of the MAS Museum in Antwerp, Belgium by Dutch architects Neuttelings Riedijk. The museum towers over the Scheldt River with views bridging the program of the museum’s interior to the surrounding city through curtains of glass that look to mimic flows of the water below. The glass is cured into impressively large “S” shape sections measuring 5.5 meters (≈18 feet) high, 1.8 meters (≈6 feet) in width, and 60cm (≈2 feet) in depth.1

The corrugated glass of the museum promotes interaction as visitors can step within the curves for a clear view of the city below. What is more interesting in the interactive visiting experience is in stepping back from the curtain wall and viewing the cityscape in panorama. In doing so, a blurring takes place as glass surfaces overlap one another. One’s view of the city is marred perhaps in an effort to refocus on the program of the space, which is to hold artifacts and educate on the history of the “dead city.”

The large, self-supported swathes of glass sandwiched between the massive volumes of heavy stone present a dynamic juxtaposition of solid and void, animated further as light reflects off the curving surface of the glass. Through the stacking of repeating solid on void the interior spaces ascend in a spiral. The scene continuously changes throughout the journey to the top in both orientation and by the blurring effect of the corrugation. This ever-changing nature of the views, adjacent to the artifacts of the old city within the museum, suggests that while the present and future may be indeterminate, the past has place for guidance to clarity.

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