Swiss National Museum gets a contemporary wing
Ever since its opening in 1898, the Swiss National Museum in Zürich saw no major renovation or extension. Throughout the decades, however, the spaces slowly got in a state that they were unable to accommodate even the most basic, necessary functions - and that was just a lesser issue. Deterioration was so much present that in 1994 a part of the building was closed down for safety reasons, and some minor touch-ups were made in order to make the rest suitable for hosting events and exhibitions. Finally, in 2002 an international competition calling for the renovation of the building has been made, and a few months later the winner could start working on the complete renewal of the complex.
Basel-based architecture office Christ & Gantenbein completed the first phase of the project in 2009, which included the inner-outer restoration of Gustav Gull’s historic building. Now, some 7 years later, a very much necessary extension was raised, opening to the public this summer. The brand new wing will house a series of exhibition galleries, an auditorium, and a library. Though absolutely contemporary in looks, the new volume stands in balanced harmony with the 19th century structure.
The almost brutalist, raw concrete building takes inspiration from its sister, which is mostly apparent from the expressive folded roof, the thick robust walls, the high quality flooring, and the choice of materials. The two are not set apart physically either but are adjoined at two points, allowing smooth transmission inside and out. This newly found circular layout allowed for the development of a new inner courtyard as well. The most striking feature of the extension is the raised section resembling a bridge. With the space underneath it connects the courtyard and the nearby park, drawing people in from the street.
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