The Kunstmuseum‘s new building redefines a prominent location in the heart of Basel. As a place for the exhibition and preservation of art as well as events, it embodies both a new departure and continuity. The new and enlarged museum consists of two buildings that together form a unified presence in the urban space.
The new building’s roof line is level with that of the existing structure, so it meets its counterpart on an equal footing; its entrance looks out toward the main building’s arcades. It has an inverted corner that transposes the existing projecting corner of the older building creating a dialogue across the street that runs between them. Each floor of the new building has exhibition spaces connected via a structurally imposing central staircase.
Prefabricated, sandblasted concrete ribs span the gallery spaces while in the foyer marble flooring and a large wall, clad with galvanized steel panels, come together in a grand aesthetic gesture; both expressive and divergent, yet cohesive at the same time. This unusual combination provides a unique character to the building – contemporary technology – providing grandeur to the architectural space.
The external façades are grey brick walls that exude an archaic air of an ancient ruin. The elongated bricks that are just 4 cm high, heightens their presence and form a striking pattern of shadows cast by the alternately projecting and receding layers. Like the main building’s façades, those of the new building hint at classical architecture. The brickwork’s different shades of grey as well as a frieze executed as a delicate relief combine with galvanized shutters to add texture and depth.
Galvanized steelwork is also used to express different materiality throughout the new extension. Window frames and shutters make ample use of galvanized steel profiles and panels as well as exterior doors and gates. This is extended into the elevator walls, within the museum shop, hand railing profiles and within the external light housings.