last weekend I made another visit to the Malmö Konsthall (1971-75) by Klas Anshelm and was reminded of Adam Caruso's essay on the building. what I noticed more than during any previous visit was the relation of the different parts to the surroundings: the way the outside defines different zones in the interior. I guess it was the fact that the large rooflight wasn't covered this time as it has been on several of my earlier visits.
even if the interior has this rough semi-warehouse feel it is worth noting that the building was much more radical and anti-institutional when new. it was conceived as one volume where the café was placed right next to the art with no separating walls, the only permanent interior walls were the ones surrounding the lecture theatre. it was basically the same idea as for Peter Celsing's Kulturhuset in Stockholm, or Centre Pompidou/Beauborg in Paris (where the man responsible for the programme for Kulturhuset, Pontus Hultén, was the first director): big open and flexible spaces meant to be adapted for every new exhibition.
I'm not saying this is entirely wrong – I can imagine the presence of a café and chattering people creating problems when displaying certain kinds of art – but it is important to notice the difference, to notice how our attitudes have changed. nowadays we seem to think a work of art needs this kind of space to assert itself as art. just in the same way as religion might need a certain kind of space and somewhat arcane rituals and language to keep its air of holiness. if the goal of the avant-garde in the early parts of the 20th century was to break down the barriers between art and life throughout the last couple of decades we have instead tried to architecturally reinstate those boundaries, in this respect a lot has changed since the seventies.