Chip off the old block

Friday 30 Mar 2012

Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie to be renovated by David Chipperfield

David Chipperfield Architects has trumped twenty-three other design studios for a coveted renovation project in Berlin. The scheme will see the UK-based firm restore and update Mies van der Rohe’s celebrated Neue Nationalgalerie in the German capital, the first building completed as part of Berlin’s Kulturforum.

The legendary volume was designed by architecture legend Mies van der Rohe and constructed between 1965 and 1968. Recognised as one of the architect’s most resounding works, Neue Nationalgalerie is a seemingly weightless steel, glass and concrete volume which houses modern art for viewing by the public. The structure is located in Berlin’s Kulturforum; a cluster of cultural buildings developed in the 1950s and 1960s in the Modernist style.

Estimated to take three years, David Chipperfield Architects’ renovation of this key cultural venue will include basic maintenance of all structural elements, restoration of the visible surfaces, updating of security and fire protection engineering, the preservation of visible technical installations and the restoration of existing furniture.

Speaking on the selection of an architect for the project, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (who aided the State Heritage Institute and Berlin Chapter of Architects in making the decision) said: “I know that this icon of modern architecture is in good hands with David Chipperfield having worked with him on the Museum Island project. During this time I have learned to appreciate the conceptual clarity of his design approach.”

Neue Nationalgalerie is a naturally lit museum volume with an interior column-free space for exhibiting modern art. A stone podium protects these often delicate works from being damaged by sunlight and windows on one side look out towards a walled sculptural garden.

The glass-rich design has been criticised for its lack of art hanging space. To this argument, Mies van der Rohe retorted: “It is such a huge hall that of course it means great difficulties for the exhibiting of art. I am fully aware of that. But it has such potential that I simply cannot that those difficulties into account.”

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