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£175m extension to Kunsthaus Zurich by Chipperfield completed

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Kunsthaus Zurich extension by Chipperfield

The £175m extension to Kunsthaus Zurich by David Chipperfield Architects has been completed. The new standalone building, created with 90 percent recycled concrete, makes the Kunsthaus the largest art museum in Switzerland.

The geometric building is situated on the north-eastern side of Heimplatz in Zurich. A passageway will run under the square to connect the new building with the three other buildings that comprise the Kunsthaus (the Moser building, the Pfister building and the Müller building). The new building will preview in April/May 2021 before opening fully in October 2021.

The enlarged Kunsthaus will offer more the double the amount of public space it had previously with the area available for displaying art increasing by 5,000 m2 to a total of 11,500 m2.

The new section of the museum is faced with slim vertical fins of Jura limestone, a common feature of the existing Kunsthaus buildings alongside other public buildings in Zurich. Inside it is based on a ‘house of rooms’ concept with a variety of different sized exhibition spaces offering flexibility for varying temporary exhibitions.

The ground floor, with a marble floor, will contain an events hall, education services, the museum shop and a café/bar. The main art displays will take place on the two upper floors. The exhibition spaces will express what the architects describe as a ‘calm modernity’. The ceilings are exposed concrete and the spaces all enjoy daylight streaming in from the sides or ceiling. Warmer notes come from the oak-parquet floors and brass dividing doors and thresholds.

Environmental ethos

While the building itself appears monumental and stern, in shades of grey, its ethos is deeply green. The major construction employs 90 per cent recycled concrete and reduced carbon cement. Internally there are large areas of exposed fair-faced concrete which offer not only good thermal insulation but also passive heating and cooling. This is achieved by a thermos-active component system (TABS) of pipes which are inserted within the walls. Heat pumps also minimise the need for mechanical air-conditioning systems.

“Since the lighting is one of the greatest ‘energy guzzlers’ in most art museums, the new building is designed for maximum use of daylight,” says the building surveyor’s office of the City of Zurich.

Energy-saving LED technology is used throughout the museum and photovoltaic systems have been installed. The building produces approximately 10 per cent of its own power consumption with the remaining 90 per cent coming from Swiss hydro-electric plants.

A gateway to the world of art

The museum was originally founded in 1787 by a group of artists and art lovers who began to collect works of art. It houses a wide variety of art spanning Old Masters, Impressionism and Expressionism, Classical Modernism and Contemporary Art, prints and drawings.

The new extension will focus on art from the 1960s onwards. In particular it will house the Emil Bührle Collection of classic modernism. Medium-sized temporary exhibitions will also be presented in the space.

“The New Kunsthaus is a gateway to the world of art, in all its rich and varied forms,” says the museum on its website. “It reflects and shapes contemporary trends and builds on the existing strengths that make the Kunsthaus Zürich collection unique. With a series of greatly enhanced facilities, it opens up a vibrant public space in the heart of Zurich.”

The central lobby will not require an admission fee. The shop and bar, large event hall and art garden will all be accessible outside museum hours.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is developing the V&A East as part of its FuturePlan project. The new site will comprise a new museum as well as collections and research centre.

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