Extension of the Kunsthaus Zürich Museum / David Chipperfield Architects
The text description is provided by the architect. The new Kunsthaus Zürich extension expands the existing Kunsthaus museum, located between the Grossmünster church and the university. The Kunsthaus Zürich now represents Switzerland’s largest art museum, comprising four buildings from different eras – the Moser building (1910), the Pfister building (1958), the Müller building (1976), and now the Chipperfield expansion (2020). This new free-standing building houses a collection of classic modernism, the Bührle collection, temporary exhibitions and art from 1960 onwards.
Based on the Central Campus masterplan published in 2007, the Schauspielhaus museum and theater building, located on the eastern side of the Heimplatz town square, forms the gateway to the arts as an urban gateway to the educational mile. Here, Zurich university’s large independent buildings line up like a string of pearls pointing north.
The urban concept for expansion envisages the placement of a clear geometric volume on the north edge of the square. The building’s shape takes inspiration from the old territorial school, built in 1842 to the north of the site, which defines the city frame with its architectural clarity. The town plan defines two new external spaces: the town square to the south, framed on all four sides by buildings, and the new Art Park in the north as an open, permeable natural environment. A large entrance hall, which runs the length of the building, creates a connection between the two spaces of this new city. Due to its low accessibility, it also acts as a public liaison between the institution and the city. A visitor’s passageway below the plaza connects the new building with the existing Kunsthaus, creating a single institutional entity.
Architectural identity mimics traditional stone facades, such as those found in the existing Kunsthaus and many other important public buildings in Zurich. Hence, the expansion is embedded in a building culture which is an expression of an enlightened civil society. The new building combines tradition and innovation through sleek vertical fins made of local Jurassic limestone with sawn surfaces and periodically placed on the facade, embedding the building in its urban and cultural context in a contemporary way.
Internal organization is based on the ‘room house’ concept. These ideas find expression in the design of spaces that differ in size, orientation, materiality and lighting, giving their respective characteristics and creating different sequences of space. All public functions such as a cafe / bar, event hall, museum shop and museum educational services are arranged around the central entrance hall on the ground floor, while the two upper floors are reserved exclusively for art exhibitions. The multi-dimensional exhibition space is characterized by quiet materiality and abundant daylight on the first floor and skylight openings on the second – placing the art experience right at the center of the visitor experience.