Kunsthaus Zürich extension cut-to-fit

Tuesday 29 Sep 2009

Chipperfield's revised design scaled back in line with jury's recommendations

Design development of David Chipperfield's Kunsthaus Zürich extension has completed leading to a more appropriately scaled building based on jury recommendations. Having won the competition in December last year the design has been developed to function within its urban context and throughout its internal organisation. The revision comprises a managed reduction of the building’s volume, a more precise location on Heimplatz, greater openness to the extension’s surroundings on all four sides, and an improved art garden.

Despite the changes the basic architectural concept remains intact. The form appears in scale with a 6% smaller footprint and above ground volume, now totalling 79,000 m3. The planned breadth of the building has also been reduced, in this case by 2.8 m; and the corresponding enlargement of the walkways running along its sides has eased pressure on the structure’s exterior space, in particular along Kantonsschulstrasse and Rämistrasse.

Other changes show two main entrances and two large side entrances allowing access on all four sides. The central hall has been cut down in size, further exhibition space reduced and workshops re-dimensioned, although the bulk of exhibition space and the banquet hall remain intact.

A lower location for the delivery area has allowed the garden level to be sunk. A single-run stairway now suffices to connect the garden to the hall, and to enhance the optical dialogue between inside and outside – on the side facing the cantonal school as well as that turned toward the existing Kunsthaus. The new design will make it possible to integrate the inventoried grounds of the old cantonal school in the green space planned for the Kunsthaus extension. The garden thus takes on the function of a hub, organically connecting the Niederdorf neighbourhood and Heimplatz itself with the university district further up the slope.

Kunsthaus Zürich will celebrate its 100 years at the Heimplatz next year and the approval of the plans would be very significant in the gallery's timeline. The future of the extension's plans, however, still remains unsure with further development needed to put the project forward to the Swiss parliament. Additional funding for the approximate €119million project is also still being sought in loans, private investments and grants but if all continues as planned the project will complete in 2015.

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