November 10, 2008

Chipperfield to build new Kunsthaus in Zurich

David Chipperfield has been announced as the winner of the international competition to design an extension to the Kunsthaus (art museum) of Zurich, Switzerland. 214 architecture offices from 22 countries were taking part in this competition. As usually in Zurich only the architect has been announced yet, images and more information is yet to be published at a press conference in December. According to the press briefing, a large majority of the jury voted for Chipperfield's project, which is supposed a "classic Chipperfield".1

Further information, along with images and plans have been scheduled to be published in December, but according to the Kunsthaus Zurich some unauthorised images were published which only show an early design stage.

kunsthaus_1.1242465, originally uploaded by scisar.

kunsthaus 2_1.1242558-1, originally uploaded by scisar.

The NZZ describes it as an "unfussy and straightforward art-palazzo without 'starchitect'-allures, an almost Protestant sobriety, austerity and modesty suiting a Zwinglian Zurich" (sort of similar to the Calvinistic Geneva, for the uninitiated).
However the first of the two images shows indeed a very subtle addition that creates somewhat of an ensemble with the existing Kunsthaus building, with similar materialization and color, yet maintaining a certain autonomy. It clearly shows the architects sensibility by the treatment of the situation. Rethinking the Heldplatz as a "Platz" rather than a mere agglomeration transit ways and an infrastructural node, would allow it to become a counterpart to the Bellevue, further towards the Opera house, and a central location for the Hochschul- and Museumsquarter - although this hasn't been part of the competition I do think the city will have to give it some serious thought.
Contrary to perhaps future projects in Basel or existing ones in Lucerne, pushing larger and important buildings in Zurich has become increasingly difficult in the last twenty years, resulting in a number of projects but most of which ultimately disappear. Like the congress center at the lake by Rafael Moneo which didn't survice a public vote on the project. This results in a complete lack of so-called 'icons', e.g. the KKL in Lucerne by Jean Nouvel and similar projects elswhere in Switzerland (of course except perhaps some "older" ones representing a newly found conscious of the city when the federal state was established some 150 years ago; but those buildings, for instance the ETH by Gottfired Semper, had a different relevance and reception at the time)
I guess it is too early to judge solely on two images, but besides that the NZZ got all excited about the Chipperfield's understatement, I am rather hopeful that perhaps this austere appearance will be a good choice for Zurich, at least one that will be accepted by the public.
The building will cost an estimated 150Mio sFr. and should be finished by 2015.

NZZ, "David Chipperfield soll das neue Kunsthaus bauen", 08.11.2008
via NZZ, "Schn├Ârkelloser Kunstpalazzo", 10.11.2008
via 2 "unauthorised images" reaction of the Kunsthaus [PDF], 10.11.2008
Images © of David Chipperfield Architects