The extension to the Kunsthaus Zurich will occupy a prominent site in the center of Zurich vis-à-vis the existing Kunsthaus, a prominent art institution built by Karl Moser early in the 20th century. Building on this site would frame the Heimplatz in a classical manner and together the existing Kunsthaus, the new extension, and the adjacent Schauspielhaus would define a neighborhood of prestigious cultural institutions.
As a point of departure, we began with a dialogue between the real and the ideal. Under ‘real’ we were concerned with the existing context of geometries and boundaries; under ‘ideal’ with the technical obligations and content which included one of the world’s most prestigious impressionist art collections, the Bührle Collection. We developed a spatial configuration oriented ideally, that is to say, to the north only. Lit evenly by northern daylight, the galleries are independent of the exterior and protected from excessive heat.
The northern orientation of the roof manifests the dialogue between the ideal conditions for the content and the real geometry created by framing and occupying the space between Heimplatz and the park behind. Here we created our own interpretation of the classical shed by notching the roof three times.
Horizontally, the design for the new Kunsthaus layers four floors of different museum typologies. On the ground level, the temporary exhibition spaces cut into the gentle slope of the existing topography forming an outdoor plateau as part of the museum’s park. On the first level, the permanent exhibition spaces for the modern painting collection form a ring of circulation. The two uppermost levels accommodate the most prestigious works in the permanent collection.
The orthogonal exhibition spaces of the two gallery levels are oriented toward the north-facing skylights and are independent from the geometries of the building envelope. Thus, the galleries are protected from climate conditions and offer curators freedom from the exterior world. An inner void, acting as the main hall, horizontally connects both sides of the new Kunsthaus as well as the front and the rear and vertically vitalizes the various typologies of the interior organization.
The inner shift of geometry as a consequence of the cardinal orientation forms the outer silhouette of the new Kunsthaus. This joins the context of the existing pitched and hipped roofs in the neighborhood and becomes another cultural jewel at the foot of the Zurichberg. At night, the new roof and the glass pyramids of the existing Kunsthaus shimmer delicately in the skyline of Zurich’s Plan Lumière.
Construction Management: Perolini Baumangement AG, Zurich
Landscape Architect: Müller Illien Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH, Zurich
Structural Engineer: JägerPartner AG Bauingenieure SIA, Zurich
Electrical Engineer: Arup GmbH, Frankfurt
Light Planning: Arup Lighting, London
Museum Consulting: Ritter Collections Management, Zurich
Model Photographs: Jon Naiman, Biel