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Museum for Modern Art in Vienna

This monolithic building stands like an erratic blockset at an oblique angle to its Baroque surroundings in Vienna’s museum district (see also Detail 6/2001). No distinction is made between walls and roof. There are no windows to lend the building a sense of scale; and there are no obvious entrances. The mechanical services are integrated in the roof beneath a steel grid. The range of colours used for all the new structures and the pavings here is restricted to those of the existing surroundings: the pale tones of the rendered facades, the brick reds of the historical roofs and the anthracite grey of the asphalt paving. The Museum forModern Art is clad in Eifel basalt. Forming a dialectic counterpart to the gallery housing the Leopold Collection, the museum seems to rise from a pit, which is illuminated at night. Visual irritations confuse the senses. The feeling of natural perspective is counteracted by the fact that the facing slabs increase in size towards the top. The radius of the curved corners of thebuilding decreases from 30 cm at ground level to a right angle at the roof; and although the outer skin has the appearance ofsolid masonry, the 10 cm slabs are suspended fromthe structure and elastically jointed. Intheentrance hall, where the basalt ismitre-cut at the junction with the plasterboard ceiling, thestone facing has a paper-thin appearance. The only view out of this introverted building isfrom the uppermost exhibition space, where there is a panoramic view over the roofs of the city.
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