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Galeria Millan

Undiú + Clara Werneck

São Paulo, SP, Brazil

March 2023


Clara Werneck, Tomas Cezar de Andrade Millan, and Victor Eduardo Moreira de Oliveira (Architect Authors)


Fabio Oyamada (Structural Engineer), Antonio Castellani (Hydraulic and Electrical Engineer), Ricardo Herder and Juliana Pongitor (Lightening), Francisco Fagundes (Construction site coordination), Vinicius Rossi (Digital Images


Millan Art Gallery


Pedro Kok


From the beginning, the main objective was to provide the gallery with an exceptional exhibition space, with radically different characteristics from those presented by its another existing spaces; Considering the small size of the land, a concise and compact solution was sought, which with few resources could yield an unprecedented spatiality. The construction work had to be agile, thus requiring a rational solution with the possibility of prefabrication.
The project’s concept organizes the exhibition room on the ground floor, with a small core consisting of a storage and a toilet for the public use. The office, in turn, is arrange on a mezzanine that, like a bridge, crosses the space without touching the side walls of the building, also featuring a pantry and an employee toilet. The resulting gaps between the mezzanine and the side walls not only allow an increase in the ceiling height near the exhibition walls, but also permit them to be flooded with natural light from two longitudinal skylights located on the roof. The result is a fully integrated building, which shares the same space and the same light.
From a constructive point of view, the side walls and the central core are built in masonry and concrete, while the mezzanine, roof and façade seek the lightness of the steel and other industrialized materials.


The spatial program demanded by the client consisted of an exhibition room, an office space for gallery employees, as well as a storage, pantry and toilets. The site, located on a sloped street in Vila Madalena district, had as a main characteristic the fact that is immediate neighbor to an existing building from the same gallery. On one hand, the new project should be independent from the former one, being able to function with complete autonomy; on the other, its design should dialogue with the existing building, complementing its functions and enriching its use.

Theses premises guided a series of design choices. It was decided to align the façade of the new building with that of the pre-existing one, in addition to respecting the neighbor edifice height. Another strategy was to continue with the pre-existing access platform, even prolonging the concrete bench there located. By extending this platform, it was possible to provide vehicles access from the street level, thus allowing small trucks to enter the complex, facilitating loading and unloading of works of art, as well as exhibition setups. Furthermore, an internal passage was created between the buildings, integrating their respective spaces. In this way, even though they maintain their respective autonomy, the relationship established by the new building with the existing one is marked by complementarity, enhancing the gallery spaces and their functions.


The project performance was extremely significant for the gallery dynamics. By allowing vehicles to enter the access platform, the use of the pre-existing building was radically transformed, now featuring storage areas and carrying an intense flow of works of art. Furthermore, considering that the previous construction only had an exhibition space and a reception desk, the implementation in the new building of an office area for around ten employees brought people movement and life to the whole complex. On vernissage days, the access platform, now expanded, becomes a real stage for gathering.

The building itself, due to its delicacy and proportion, also allowed the client to try new types of exhibitions that did not occur before in the pre-existing gallery spaces. Papers, drawings and other smaller works acquire great significance here, as demonstrated by the inaugural exhibition “Pocket Paintings”, by the artist Paulo Pasta. In this sense, the relationship of complementarity and distinction is once again present.

The biggest post-occupation challenge was controlling the light coming from the skylights, which brought much more clarity to the space than initially expected. Although natural light was very welcome, the incidence of direct sunbeams in the exhibition interfered a lot on the appreciation of the works of art. The most effective solution was to apply 10mm thick white polycarbonate sheets to the skylight windows, thus ensuring a more appropriate diffused light.

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