Chipperfield extends Europe's first contemporary art museum

05 Feb 2010

Opening of Essen's Folkwang Museum extension coincides with city's Capital of Culture year

In 2007, David Chipperfield Architects won the international architecture competition for the extension of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany. Founded in 1902, the Folkwang was the first museum of contemporary art in Europe. Today, it is one of the highest profile museums of classic modern art in Germany. The opening of the museum is one of the most important cultural events to be held in Essen and the Ruhr region during their time as one of the European Capitals of Culture 2010.

The new building complements the original building, continuing the architectural principle of an ensemble of six structures and four inner courtyards, gardens and galleries. The publicly accessible areas connect seamlessly with the existing exhibition areas. A generous open stairway leads from the Bismarckstraße into the new foyer, which takes the form of an open interior courtyard with a restaurant and a bookstore, and is protected from the street by a glass façade.

Visitors are welcomed into a succession of differing rooms - exhibition areas with ceiling heights of up to six metres, library and reading room, multi-functional hall, events space, depots and restoration areas. Polished cement was used for the floors, which is similar in colour and texture to the cement stone used for the base. The translucent, alabaster-like façade consists of large square recycled glass slabs. The colour of the facade shifts with the changing natural light. The integrated window openings sit flush with the façade.

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