Location: Bern, Switzerland
Gross Internal Area: 1,800 m2
Competition Entry, 2006
The Kunstmuseum in Bern is the oldest museum in Switzerland housing a permanent art collection. Our proposal for its modern extension is defined by an expressive gap to the historic building. Minimal contact through bridges on two different levels establishes links and serves a long promenade that loops between the old and new galleries. The new building is primarily a composition of two above ground horizontal bars with two parallel external voids. The in-between voids break up the massing to allow natural light into the galleries and frame views to and from the existing museum.
The main pedestrian movement is considered a public promenade through both the old and new buildings. It penetrates the existing museum to descend along the steep wooded river embankment, pausing momentarily at a public viewing gallery. One then circulates through the exhibition spaces to ascend the gap between the two buildings and traverse the outdoor gallery to the upper gallery space. The visitor is brought back into the historic museum via a thin glazed bridge.
The exhibition spaces are simple and flexible. Yet they have a crystal-like presence on the exterior, expressed by thick cast glass of linear creased textures with variable levels of transparency. During the day the skin absorbs and reflects the surrounding atmosphere, city and sky. At night controllable back lighting of the extruded glass skin gives the building a radiating glow that slowly changes from dusk to dawn.