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Sesi Lab, art, education, science and technology hub


The responsibility is much greater than the two floors of 100 meters in front, in a total of 10 thousand square meters. Much bigger even than the address, in the heart of the historic center of Brasília, more precisely at the intersection of the North-South axes, the starting point of Lúcio Costa's design. Award-winning Minas Gerais architect Gustavo Penna had the mission to “reinvent” an iconic project conceived by Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) — and turn it into an effervescent hub of art, education, science, technology and innovation, the Sesi Lab.

“We redesigned the place. And what excited me the most was that we were able to give this building a value that it had not yet presented to Brasilia, a new function, of cultural and social articulation”, comments Penna.


The space was occupied by the Touring Club of Brazil, in a privileged location granted by the federal government to the institution in 1963. By the decay of the association, the building ended up auctioned by the Union in 2005, occupied by a bus station, deteriorated, and later occupied by invaders.


Now, 18 years later, Sesi Lab will be inaugurated in November. This is an innovative initiative, maintained by Sesi, Senai and partners in the industrial sector. Realized by the National Department of Sesi, with the collaboration of the Euvaldo Lodi Institute and the Exploratorium Museum, in San Francisco, the architectural requalification project was entirely developed by the Gustavo Penna Arquitetos office and had museological assistance from the Expomus team.

The idea is for the space to host temporary and permanent exhibitions, festivals, seminars, artistic residencies, cinema, workshops, and a series of cultural and educational activities.

In a “reinvention” of the spaces proposed by Niemeyer, the original architectural concept was reformulated by Penna in order to meet pedagogical, educational and cultural objectives, reintegrating the building into society.

These interventions, while maintaining the most substantive and emblematic features of the building, with care and respect for the master, sought to create new connections, rearranging the internal space with modular structures, which allow for a playful and democratic approach to knowledge, where everything is visible to be accessible. To make new uses viable, a service, lighting and acoustics network structure was created that enhances the structure. With the reuse of water, thermal comfort, lighting, the use of plants from the cerrado, the building will seek Leed certification to be an example of sustainability.

With the removal of fences added over time on the lower floor, the permeability proposed in the original project was restored to the building. By opening the building to the surroundings, restoring a passage lined with tiles by Athos Bulcão, SesiLab hopes to offer a new living space in the city, a square between the National Library and the National Theater.

“The interesting thing is that the historic building, made at the time of the founding of Brasília, continues to generate values for the future”, points out the architect. “And I believe that every building really needs to be open to reinterpretations in the future, so that they don't get frozen in time. All buildings must admit of reinterpretations.”


Gustavo Penna, Laura Penna, Letícia Carneiro, Norberto Bambozzi, Priscila Dias de Araújo, Ricardo Gomes Lopes

Management and Planning

Risia Botrel

Interior design

Tina Barbosa

Images and 3D Model

Cesario Alvim, Fabio Cesar de Oliveira


Brasilia – Federal District – Brazil


Technical Data
Project year: 2019
Year of completion of the work: 2022
Built area: 7700m²

Jomar Bragança

CNI - Industry Media Bank

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