Urban Development: Expansion to the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt
Architects: LRO Lederer Ragnarsdóttir Oei
Location: Frankfurt am Main (DE)
This means it is even more important that the new building for the Historisches Museum be a symbol of a more sophisticated way of looking at history. Here, the ideal was not recreating the city as it was before the war, but rather the further development of the contemporary structure. The Historical Museum is the best example of this in a city that has grown and undergone constant change. It sits on the banks of the Main in a conglomerate of five buildings from eight different centuries. These had all been renovated by Diezinger & Kramer Architekten by 2012. Their work involved extensive rebuilding and added fittings that improved use of the interior spaces.
This approach to history is continued at the urban-planning level in the new building. It is to be cleared up, repaired and developed further. The design by Lederer Ragnarsdóttir Oei comprises three parts. To the back of the complex stands a tall, narrow building with an arresting lozenge pattern; this is home to the central entrance and the administration offices. The architects have shifted the exhibition house farther to the north and turned it slightly on its own axis. The new wing has thus lengthened the Saalgasse axis. This urban-planning project creates connections between the various strata of the city.
What’s more, a new, slightly raised museum square featuring broad seating steps has been created among the new buildings. Along its open, narrow sides, the architecture of the square integrates Frankfurt’s oldest building, the Stauffer Saalhof, to the east. To the west, Haus Wertheym, which is the oldest half-timbered house in town, takes its place in the ensemble. The pointed double roof of the exhibition house and the façades in reddish sandstone form further connections to the surroundings and mediate between the present and history, without drifting too far into the postmodern.
Therefore, the museum blithely ignores the boundaries between old and new as well as those between interior and exterior. It has breathtaking perspectives and urban qualities that Frankfurt’s old town, with its narrow, crooked alleys, has never seen before.