With its melting clocks, bizarre landscapes and lobster telephones, the surreal artwork of Spanish painter Salvador Dali doesn’t seem like the ideal blueprint for a safe, functional building. However, if the structure in question is being built to hold the largest collection of the man’s artwork outside Europe, a touch of Dali’s flair seems entirely appropriate.
That’s the opinion of design firm HOK, who is responsible for Florida’s new Dali Museum. At 68,000 square feet, it’s double the size of the original Dali Museum in the artist’s native Catalonia, and packed to its unorthodox rafters with oils, watercolours, sketches and sculptures. This includes seven of the 18 ‘masterworks’ attributed to the artist.
The inspiration for the building came from how Dali portrayed the contrast between the rational world and the natural world. The former is represented by the 58ft-high concrete cuboid that makes up the bulk of the building’s exterior. The latter comes into play via the vast snake-like ‘Enigma’ (named after the 1929 painting) that cuts through the museum, opening it up to natural light in the process.
The inside is equally eye-popping. Gigantic spiral staircases pirouette between the floors and suspended black plaster ‘light cannons’ pour sunlight on to the largest of the exhibits.
To top it all, the building boasts sustainable design strategies, including energy-saving lights and solar panels. Here’s hoping they’re more effective than Dali’s own solar-powered clock, which — judging by his painting — didn’t stand up particularly well to the midday heat.