Argentinean entrepreneur Alan Faena - the visionary behind the Faena Arts District - has once again put Buenos Aires on the world map, launching a cultural and artistic mega-project that's a far cry from a traditional museum. The Faena Arts Center is located in Puerto Madero, the city's hot new district, a chunk of which Faena purchased at the turn of the century when it was neglected and decaying. Over the next decade he set about founding a neighbourhood within the neighbourhood, building an individual brand for each of his endeavours, from the Phillippe Stark-designed Faena Hotel & Universe to the upcoming Aleph, Norman Foster's first project in Latin America, as well as various residential projects.
The building hosting the new Faena Arts Center in Dam 3 was formerly a busy flourmill producing up to a thousand tonnes of ground wheat a day during the 1900s. It was already abandoned when Faena bought it, but today it still retains the basic elements of its early 20th-century industrial architecture.
Local architect Mike McCormack was entrusted with remodelling the building, including the façade. He has configured a space that adapts to the demands of all forms of contemporary art in an intelligent way. Faena Arts Center is not a traditional museum whose aim is to house a historically significant collection or lend legitimacy to artists. It is not a museum mall nor it is an art gallery. It is an ongoing project based on the exchange of ideas, experimentation and cultural research.
A new exhibition space, located in the old engine room of this iconic building and covering 4,000sq m, has been renovated by McCormack Asociados, who have respected the building's original style: high ceilings, period details, bay windows and semicircular arches - all common elements of industrial architecture in 1900.
For the first exhibition in this new centre, which he runs together with Ximena Caminos, Faena called upon Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto. Curated by Tate Modern's Jessica Morgan, Neto designed a hanging sculpture titled 'Crazy Hyperculture in the Vertigo of the World', made of crochet-woven fabric stuffed with thousands of plastic balls, which takes up most of the main exhibition room. This space has the proportions of a cathedral, with a T-shaped floor and an asymmetric central apse on Aimé Paine Street.
The building plan and façade have succeeded in intelligently adapting a space defined by the architectural characteristics of the past to harmoniously house the daring, versatile and demanding expressions of contemporary art.