MACA Museum in Uruguay, a monument to wooden architecture 

The singular construction inaugurated in Punta del Este reaffirms Uruguay as a reference in small and large scale wood construction
Publication date: 30/03/2022

The new Museum of Contemporary American Art (MACA) of the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, located in Manantiales, Maldonado, displays a striking architectural design in which wood is the main material used.

Designed by the renowned Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott - chosen in 1983 to build the "Opera Bastille" in Paris - the MACA is a spectacular project of variable curves that found in glued laminated timber the perfect ally to solve, in a natural and elegant way, the complex structural design.

The forestry sector has been one of the most dynamic sectors of the Uruguayan economy in recent decades. Since the Forestry Law (1987) to the present, plantations and timber extraction have increased fivefold, laying the foundations for the installation of important investments in the sawmill and cellulose industry, and now sees in the construction industry an important opportunity.

Engineered wood products have opened up a range of possibilities for architectural and structural design, making it possible to manufacture elements of large spans, with variable sections, shapes and curvatures, such as this museum.

The structure of the MACA's sculpture hall is made up of 19 bi-articulated porticoes, composed of inclined pillars and beams of variable section and curvature. In this way, the hall becomes the first complex spatial structure designed in Uruguay using glued laminated timber structural elements of variable section and curvature.

The museum, an iconic space for Uruguayan culture, is an immense attraction for tourism, both for the important art exhibitions it will display and for its architectural value. This colossal artistic space, which combines the talent of the award-winning Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott with that of the prestigious Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry, positions Punta de Este as a cultural tourist destination.

Located on the ample grounds of the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation in Manantiales (Punta del Este), the MACA stands with two adjoining buildings of elegant design in pink eucalyptus wood and more than 5,000 square meters of exhibition space. The wood engineering was in charge of Oak Ingeniería, with Urufor supplying and Simonin manufacturing and assembling the laminated wood, while the construction company was Atchugarry.

Amtica was in charge of the executive project and the construction of the meeting room and the cafeteria, for which it used eucalyptus grandis, a national wood with large export volumes. This wood has gained space and preponderance over time, being one of the most chosen products today. A wood with an excellent drying, which presents in its solid version almost null movement, a characteristic that the others do not present. 

With this type of construction, Uruguay is positioned at the same level of similar works in the world. It also has experience in this field, as it was the first country in South America to build a three-story CLT wood building.

Uruguay has a strategic location for the development of forestry-timber activity and has increased its planted area thirty-fold in the last 25 years. The country is located at the same latitude as the main forestry enterprises in the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa. Its favorable natural conditions ensure very good levels of competitiveness at international level. Its temperate climate and rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year have benefited the wide availability of soils with high yields. Thus, the average timber growth is six times higher than in the northern hemisphere, and almost all of its production is internationally certified.