The latest extension of the Kunsthaus museum in Zurich, carried out by architect David Chipperfield, has made it the largest art museum in Switzerland. And inside, benches, seats, stopping and contemplation islands are all designed by Minotti.
The extension was completed no less than twelve years from the launch of the project and it is connected to the historical Kunsthaus building, built in 1910, by a 70-metre-long underground gallery. Chipperfield’s extension is the fourth seen by the museum, following the ones by Karl Moser (1922), the Otto brothers and Werner Pfister (1956) and Erwin Müller (1977).
A project that represents an important evolution of the museum, not only from an architectural perspective, but also in city planning terms. With the introduction of the building by Chipperfield, the perimeter of the Heimplatz, on to which it faces, is completely redesigned, becoming a public space that not only serves as an outdoor connection between the two buildings, but also as a link with the rest of the city.
The vast, well-defined indoor spaces are enhanced by the contrasts between the béton brut and the large metal doors that mark the transitions between the rooms of the museum. The diffused light from the ceilings and the shades of grey, complemented by the warm nuances of brass, frame the islands in the centre of each exhibition room: the elements of the Freeman “Tailor” seating system in neutral grey leather, designed by Rodolfo Dordoni, blend in seamlessly with the architectural genius loci. The benches and seats iconically and sculpturally interpret the need to create dynamic monolithic islands of relaxation. Silent, yet firm presences that combine like soft architectural volumes, outlined by seams that accentuate their graphic, contemporary character.
These seats, in a variety of shapes and sizes, appear inside the itinerary through the museum, from the great hall to the various rooms. An architecture within an architecture: in fact the furniture mark out the lines of the architectural space, leaving it free and neutral and emphasising the minimalism of its forms.
Sir David Chipperfiled says: “Since the very beginning, we have tried to endow the museum with physical qualities that will improve the visitor’s experience, while bearing in mind the civic nature of the building and the institution it represents. We hope that the quality of the architecture, and its spatial, formal and material resolution, will ensure that the extension, like the original building by Karl Moser, becomes an integral part of the physical, social and cultural infrastructure of the city of Zurich.”