David Chipperfield – Museum Island

AM Kupfergraben 10 ‘Gallery Building’ – Berlin

2003-2007

Modern gallery to the West of Museum Island overlooking one of Berlin’s most prominent historical and cultural centres, Museum Island, which includes another of Chipperfield’s buildings the Neues Museum. As a piece of urban infill the gallery building really had to respond to the historical style of the surrounding architecture. The building manages to sit comfortably into place amongst its neighbours, designed to the same height and taking note of other patterns and proportions in the adjacent facades. The building as a replacement is sensitive to it’s surroundings yet at the same time demonstrates a contemporary edge using only simple geometry. The windows seem placed on the facade like the paintings hanging inside, offering glimpses into the exhibitions but also framing the internal life and activity.

Neues Museum – Museum Island, Berlin

1997 – 2009

Chipperfield chooses his material palette carefully in the restoration work of the war damaged Neues Museum, the new architecture doesn’t seem in contention with the old, rather it seeks to reflect it. The colours and tones of the restored structure complement the original stone building, offering – not unlike the Gallery Building across the river – a solution to designing with classically proportioned architecture without imitating it.

Internally, there is plenty of simplistic considered choices and clever material transitions but there are also moments of grandeur on display, with triple height spaces and immense table-like platforms that exhibit and reinforce the existing walls. Where possible the old Museum has been exposed, uncovered and brought back to life as if revealed from a historical dig and displayed as artifact.

The result of Chipperfield’s addition is seemingly calm and collected, sensitive and beautiful, but uses transition of space in a sophisticated manner to develop a sense of awe and spectacle.

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