Forward Architects
D, Dolphin Court
Embassy Way
Ta' Xbiex, XBX 1071
+356 20119511
MUBA – Gran Canaria Museum of Fine Arts



The MUBA competition’s objective was to convert the old Hospital San Martin 18th century building into a new Fine Arts museum in Gran Canaria. Hospital San Martin is a place of major historic importance and a special place in the memory of Gran Canarians. The building has grown organically from the original historical building fabric and in so doing has strengthened its location as a historical landmark within the urban fabric of Gran Canaria.

Our proposal seeks to strengthen and reaffirm this special status and relationship between building and community through two new urban pedestrian plaza interventions.

The first plaza is located across the road from the current MUBA entrance. It invites visitors to stop and appreciate the open urban vistas across the valley, set against the a full view of St Martin’s Hospital facade with its elaborately detailed arched portico entrance. The plaza will also integrate a direct path with the street below. The spatial and urban quality of this plaza has will establish itself as an important social and community urban node within the historical urban context.




The ground floor free-to-enter public spaces present historical works as well as a programme of educational and cultural events with a broad appeal. Facilities here include Reception, orientation signage, temporary galleries, flexible event spaces and a museum shop. All of these are accessible separately from the climate controlled permanent exhibition spaces above. Direct daylight enters the building’s porticos through a number of existing external courtyards.

A transition foyer and courtyard, situated to the north of the building, leads the visitor towards the main entrance of the MUBA permanent collection. The foyer expresses a clear yet understated architectural dialogue between the newly added walls and the original historical fabric.

At the end of the foyer courtyard, the architecture unfolds itself towards the exterior. This interior/exterior relationship, a key feature of this design approach, is reminiscent with that of the existing internal courtyards at Hospital San Martin.

This foyer courtyard is also a clearly recognisable visitor circulation node which gives access to the various other MUBA activities at upper levels. This allows the temporary exhibition gallery, reserve collection and study spaces, the auditorium and the large terrace to be accessed and used in together or independently. This can be of great advantage in catering for formal and informal learning groups, hosting special events and conferences.



The ground floor is essentially a free-to-enter extension of the street, combining art with social activity, cafe, retail, changing display, informal performance, participation and outreach. Visitors are able to curate their own journey through the building, which is facilitated through a very clear orientation strategy at key points. There is always a new reason to come back to MUBA and always an open invitation through the architecture.

Views and vistas across these varied spaces are an important part of the visitor experience. Visitors see works of art in the context of themselves and each other, creating a constant dialogue between the building, the artworks and the viewers. MUBA is ‘porous’, both physically and intellectually, encouraging constant exchange between its different spaces and functions.



This is voyage through art, time and ideas based firmly on MUBA’s stated desire to place the artworks themselves in neutral ‘white box’ gallery spaces in which the art pieces are the protagonists and nothing interrupts the visitor-art piece dialogue

Between the galleries sit a number of transition spaces that set the context for a gallery beyond. Marked by a single transparent image, authentic historic reference and an evocative phrase, they are a decompression opportunity that help the visitor to disconnect from last gallery experience and prepare for the next one.



The MUBA cafe plaza at the rear of the site is the second major access transformation proposed in this scheme.

Currently, a wall separates the residential area from the museum. This wall, together with other buildings, which do not form part of the original historical building fabric, will be replaced with a number of key urban interventions. These include a stepped rock landscape, the embellishment of the upper external Chapel area together with the embellishment and widening of the existing staircase adjacent to the original MUBA building fabric.

These striking, elegant moves will create a new, inviting and open ‘back door’ for MUBA serving as a catalyst for the future urban regeneration and integration of the community within the museum. MUBA will build on its current reputation as a place of inspiration, art, community and identity. Open and available to all, MUBA will be seen as a centre for creativity, a vibrant destination, a hub
of debate and ideas.





Share to: