The newly opened Brandhorst Museum in the Munich Gallery District
Architects: Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin
Ever since Karl Friedrich Schinkel created the Old Museum in Berlin in 1830 and Leo von Klenze built the Alte Pinakothek in Munich in 1836, the two cities have vied with each other for recognition as the leading museum venue in Germany. Central art districts have developed in both cities, but at present, Berlin is regarded as the undisputed museum capital of the country. To reinvigorate this competition, Munich has now added the Brandhorst Museum, with an exhibition area of 3,200 square metres.
Designed by Sauerbruch Hutton, the new structure in the gallery district has been criticized
for its bold coloration and its use of materials untypical of the location, as well as for turning its back on the other galleries nearby. The architects have oriented their building towards the Neue Pinakothek, a block away on the other side of the street, envisioning this as the future axis of development in the area.
The Brandhorst Museum consists of a 98-metre-long tract 17 metres high that culminates in a 23-metre-high corner structure. With a 1952 housing development of almost equal height opposite and with other towers nearby, the museum forms a gate-like entrance to the art district.
The new museum, with its colourful facade, may be an exotic bird of paradise, enlivening its surroundings, or it may turn out to be a cuckoo’s egg. This is a question for the long term, when the buildings of neighbouring institutes have been demolished and further museums have taken their places.
Whereas other galleries built in the vicinity in recent decades, such as the Neue Pinakothek
by Freiherr von Branca and the Pinakothek der Moderne by Stephan Braunfels, were conceived as independent structures in a landscaped area, Sauerbruch Hutton have oriented their new museum to its surroundings, painstakingly letting it reflect the coloration of the nearby buildings, for example.
The facade of the Brandhorst structure, with its 36,000 vertical ceramic tubes glazed in 23 different tones, has a lively, sensory quality. The 4-by-4-centimetre tubes are set in front of horizontally colour-banded, perforated aluminium sheeting, resulting in a woven, gauze-like effect. When sunlight falls diagonally on the facade, the ceramic tubes cast a surprising and shifting pattern of shadows on the metal sheeting behind. Only at a distance of about two metres does the fascinating texture reveal its constructional secret.
In terms of energy, the sound-absorbing facade, the natural lighting on all three levels and the thermal activation of the walls and floors create an environmentally sustainable home for modern art. The white, functional internal spaces form a neutral background for the more than 700 works from the collection of Udo and Anette Brandhorst.
Text and photos by Frank Kaltenbach