Chipperfield's Extension to Kunsthaus Zürich Completed

John Hill
14. December 2020
South elevation on Heimplatz (Photo © Noshe; all images courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects)

Twelve years in the making, the freestanding building designed by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin for the Kunsthaus Zürich is now complete. The keys were handed over the museum on December 11, with an opening planned for October 2021.

The new 23,000-square-meter (250,000-sf) building is located on the northern side of the triangular Heimplatz, opposite the trio of interconnected, existing museum buildings that date back to Karl Moser's original from 1910. David Chipperfield Architects' competition-winning design is linked to the others via a passageway underneath the square. Taking the new building into account, this assemblage on the eastern edge of Zürich's Old Town now comprises the largest art museum in Switzerland.

The new building in dark gray with dashed lines indicating its connection to the existing Kunsthaus Zürich at lower left. (Drawing © David Chipperfield Architects)
View into Central Hall from Heimplatz (Photo © Noshe)

The new building is faced in local Jurassic limestone that is articulated through vertical fins and horizontal bands expressing the three floors inside. Large windows set behind the projecting stone bring natural light into some of the galleries that are arranged around the central entrance hall; the latter sits behind a tall expanse of glazing facing Heimplatz. As can be seen in the building section below, the entrance hall extends through the whole building, from Heimplatz on the south to the Garden for Art on the north, the latter of which is elevated due to the slope of the site. 

A section showing the passageway underneath Heimplatz, the entrance hall inside the new building, and behind it the new Garden of Art designed by Wirtz International. (Drawing © David Chipperfield Architects)
Central Hall, view to the north, toward the Garden for Art (Photo © Noshe)

According to the architects, the interior layout was based on the idea of "house of rooms," leading to a "diverse sequence of spaces" according to the size, orientation, materials, and lighting of each room. A cafe, events hall, museum shop, and educational spaces are on the ground floor, while two floors of galleries are upstairs. Galleries on the middle floor receive light through windows, while those on the top floor are given skylights. A "calm materiality," per the architects, permeates these spaces for the display of art.

Exhibition room on the first floor, looking toward the existing Kunsthaus Zürich (Photo © Noshe)
A large exhibition hall on the second floor (Photo © Noshe)

Although Kunsthaus Zürich's new building won't open until the fall, there are plans to preview the building to the public in the spring, per Swiss-Architects, with performances, guided tours and the installation of the first, non-climate-sensitive works in April and May. After a summer closure, the newly expanded museum will then have its official opening during the weekend of October 9th and 10th.

A smaller exhibition hall on the second floor (Photo © Noshe)

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