Social and cultural analysis of an industrial building type reveals a new income stream and activation for its local community.
Located on the edge of Miami’s art district, The Vault is a proposal for a high-tech art storage facility for museums and private collectors. In addition to secure, climate-controlled units, the concept incorporates concierge and logistics offices, showroom and exhibition spaces, a conservation lab, and work and education spaces.
Despite the utilitarian nature of this building type, our 360-degree analysis found new ways to enhance its economic and social value. The high-profile site meant the building could become a canvas—a gigantic “billboard” of sponsored graphics and artworks to promote artists, partners, and community arts programs. By taking a cultural and arts approach, it wouldn’t contravene city advertising bylaws and would instead create a rich and lively collage.
The Vault would become an enabler—an ecosystem whereby collectors and museums “share” their art through physical, virtual, and digital exhibitions, alongside opportunities for sponsorship. Nearby low-income neighborhoods would benefit from children’s education and activation events funded by the ever-changing array of billboards on the building exterior.
To make these canvases, we’ve manipulated storage modules by simply offsetting every other bay. Pre-cast concrete panels are either recessed or cantilevered to create a massive grid. Sized for structural and storage efficiency, the windowless, utilitarian façade can now perform a valuable community role in addition to its cultural and commercial purpose.
Starting with an industrial building typology, we found new ways to expand The Vault’s economic, academic, cultural, and social potential. We believe that deeper analysis of a brief and site—such as we carried out with The Vault—can bring about dynamic paradigm shifts in architecture and create better human outcomes.