Museum of the 20th Century
Cultural | Art Museum
Berlin | Germany
2016 | International Competition

Homage to site is primary. This new form deftly inserts itself, thereby reconfiguring the remaining open space within the Kulturforum and strengthening Berlin’s cultural open space concept.

Conceived as being non-building, this museum’s form is the resultant of many factors - vectors, program, and even the ebb and flow of modern architectural history (both in theory and form). At once a path and a place, the project finds comfort, not in being the destination, but in being that which informs one’s journey. The design is formed by practical factors such as the necessities of circulation, view, program; however, it is also sculpted by more complex factors such as the historical legacy of its neighbors and the historical importance of its contents – both art and the literal landscape.

Eroded like a millenia-old landform, the project’s base is an organic threshold between the ground and the strictly delineated mass above. While the majority of erosion has a natural character, it is counterbalanced by a very purposefully formed void to the northwest, which acts as a protective vessel for an extremely important artifact on the site, the Plane Tree – designated as a national monument. At the other sides, which all face significant architectural works, the design acts as a somewhat neutral backdrop, not competing at the level of materiality or detail found in St. Matthew’s Church, or the tectonic precision found in the Scharoun's Philharmonie and Mies' National Gallery.

Similar in concept to the separation caused by erosion, the program is divided into lower and upper areas, while the eroded belly of the design contains the majority of public space and circulation/void. A secondary connection exists underground to the National Gallery, and at the sidewalk, a pathway cuts through the museum's base, directly connecting the library across the street to the heart of the Kulturforum. Finally, the at the main entrance adjacent to Scharoun Plaza, the ground lifts up, affording a space of relaxation under the cover of the hovering mass, while alluding to the classical nature of a cultural podium.

A portion of the rooftop is given over to the “Art Field”. There, a visitor would encounter a gigantic homogenous plane with works arranged on the surface. A somewhat Situationist construct, this abstract plane immediately puts into perspective the historical works of art within and the modern backdrop of the city in which they were borne.

Project Size: 300,000SF
Site: Cultural Campus with multiple historically significant modern buildings

Designed in Partnership with: studio_sk
Landscape Architect: Groundworks Office