The renovated Emilio Caraffa Museum, which annexes the former Physical Education Institute building (IPEF), is part of a larger complex that includes the new Palacio Ferreyra Museum. The new Caraffa Museum includes a great variety of exhibition rooms, mainly for temporary exhibitions, as well as facilities for the technical support of the complex (that is, for cataloguing, classification, research, restoration, safekeeping, library, administration, exhibition, curation, programming, design, etc.).
The original project for the building now housing the Museum was commissioned to Hungarian architect Johannes Kronfuss, who developed the design circa 1915 using a Neoclassical approach. However, when construction ended in 1916, only a fourth of the designed area was actually built. In 1938 the adjacent IPEF was built as an Educational Institute. In 1962, the Museum was expanded with a prismatic volume consisting of several levels. In 2006 the government of the province of Córdoba decided to expand the Caraffa Museum. GGMPU and Lucio Morini were commissioned with the design of the new art Museum, as well as with the new connecting building (Section A) to join the Museum with the IPEF (Section B). The IPEF renovation was commissioned to MZARCH architects.
In Section A, designed by GGMPU and Lucio Morini, the existing building presented complexities such as accessibility problems, spatial fragmentation of the interior of the building into levels which hampered access, rooms with limited height which rendered them inadequate as exhibition spaces, as well as the dispersion of buildings throughout the site. The idea guiding the design consisted of proposing a connecting building which joined all the existing fragmented pieces, allowing them to keep their own individuality and original character, while at the same time leading to a strong unified complex. This connecting building was materialized using a metal frame, which is shown through a glass enclosure of varying transparency. The existing envelopes of the old buildings were preserved so that the new volumes could relate to the old buildings in a continuous sequence. The internal layout of the buildings was solved using horizontal and vertical connectors linking various rooms, where the visitor is free to explore the spaces following either pre-established paths or generating his/her own itineraries.
The Museum´s change of scale -growing from 1200m² to 4400m² - caused it to shift its center of gravity. This in turn led to moving the main entrance, which is now located in a plaza at street level, solving the problem of accessibility for handicapped and elderly people. The cafeteria and art bookstore are placed at the same street level, also allowing direct access from the plaza. The storage and service facilities of the original building, formerly on the second level, were transformed into a new exhibition room. The fragmented, multi-level floor slabs of the 1962 expansion were demolished and replaced with a unique floor slab which unifies the space while giving it more height and leveling it with the restored 1916 rooms. These rooms are now continued into a foyer that cantilevers over the access plaza, stressing the piano nobile condition present in the original design. The foyer also houses a side entrance for students arriving by school bus.
On the next level there is a bridge room that connects to the adjacent building (formerly IPEF) and allows for a continuous circulation, incorporating the exhibition rooms placed there. By taking advantage of the existing conditions, the project proposes a multiplicity of rooms of various shapes, sizes, heights, and lighting conditions, which allows for the development of a great diversity of artistic manifestations.