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2018 MCHAP

The Backyard's Quay Museum

Brasil Arquitetura Studio

Recife, Brazil

December 2017


Marcelo Carvalho Ferraz Francisco Fanucci


Pedro Del Guerra (Architect)


Governo do Estado de Pernambuco


Brasil Arquitetura Archive


Besides paying tribute to one of the greatest icons of Brazilian culture – Luiz Gonzaga –, the museum intends to show the backland in all its multiple facets that form one way of being Brazilian. Architecture and exhibition design work in synchrony on the museum subject: the Backland. The concrete with ochre pigments represents the hot color of the soil of the agreste. With a sophisticated structure of prestressed concrete, the large 65 meter span clears the ground for a grand shaded public plaza – an urban veranda –, a shelter from the strong local sunshine or the rainfall in the city. This covered plaza is a space for coming together, par excellence: celebrations, fairs, performances, etc. Yet, the most important architectural element is the giant cobogo facade, made of precast brise-soleil components, designed especially for the project. The use of cobogo could not be more appropriate in Recife, where this construction element first came about, due to its ability to ease the relation between inside and outside, creating a light filter for those who are inside and look at the view outside through “twigs”, and a “sweet and softened” view for those who are outside, passers-by who spy on the interior. The cobogo is made of geopolymer concrete and works as a large white lace, pale in contrast to the structural yellow concrete, in reference to the caatinga vegetation, or the cracked patterns of dry soil. This drawing also became the logo for the museum.


The government of the state of Pernambuco designated one of the warehouses of the old Port of Recife and a large adjacent area for the construction of the museum. This area is located by the quay, on the island where Recife city was founded, the so-called Ground Zero, an area which is national heritage. In line with the urban proposition of the state and the municipal government of maintaining the old warehouses of the port and assigning new functions to them, the architectural project was developed re-adapting one of the warehouses (2.500m²) and creating a new building (5.000m²) connected to it, reinforcing the elongated layout of the constructions of the port, in order to accommodate the museum. Due to the importance of the location and the socio-cultural program, the museum in conjunction with the surrounding area shall also create a new urban landmark in the cityscape of Recife. It shall function as an agent for the urban regeneration of the historic centre as a whole, strengthening the connections of the city with its water resources – canals, rivers, and the ocean. In addition, in this specific case, the museum also brings to the seashore of the metropolis the vast world of the Brazilian Northeastern Backland (Sertão), generally marked by a very dry climate: its landscape, biodiversity, human settlements, traditions, arts, beliefs, migrations and the potent music.


Since its opening, the museum has been visited by a diverse public and schools. The proposition of the architecture and exhibition design of combining high technology in construction and exhibition, a variety of objects resulting from a rigorous anthropologic research, art works on specially designed supports, documents, films, and photographies. The whole was thought out from a strong concept and contents that were developed by specialists from different areas of knowledge, together with an architecture highly concerned with its urban context. By showcasing the lifestyle and culture of the backland in a modern building by the quay in the Capital of Pernambuco, the museum aims to be an eye-opener for a universe that is simultaneously rich and poor, tragic and festive, violent and poetic, and that belongs to a large part of the inhabitants of the vast territory of the backland. The result is a building that metaphorically reveals the main exhibition themes in different ways – subtly at times, decisively at others. The Backland’s Quay Museum has offered its visitors a nurturing and unique experience, intellectually and affectionately. The essence of the museum is the encounter between technique and poetics, hi-tech and low-tech, rigorous and rich contents and the possibility of open interpretation and experience; a place for aesthetic enjoyment, where emotion, surprise and discovery come together. A place of urban generosity.

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