An Illuminating Brick Façade: Expansion of the Kunstmuseum Basel
Architect: Christ & Gantenbein
Location: St. Alban-Graben 20, 4010 Basel (CH)
Glowing bricks in a frieze measuring 3 m in height transform the new expansion to the Kunstmuseum Basel into a work of art in itself. LED bands set into the hollow spaces of the brickwork allow lines of script and patterns, as well as moving and still images to appear on the façade. In cooperation with the lart group, the architects have combined two diametrically opposed elements: heavy brick and transient air. The intensity of light on the façade ranges from a bright glow to a weak glimmer to shadowy and barely perceptible. This is controlled via the feedback system of sensors on the roof, which measure the brightness of the area.
This unconventional media façade is part of a self-supporting brick wall whose colour lightens from the ground up. The bricks jut out and recess, lending a playful character to the otherwise austere building. They consist of a mixture of loam, sand, silt and clay and were baked at various temperatures. The interplay of loam colour and baking temperature led to the grey, stone-like material whose range of shades is linked to the plastered surfaces of the foyer and stairwell. The interior concrete shell carries the prefabricated ceiling elements through the exhibition spaces, whose spans measure as much as 19 m. The interior walls are made of immovable in-situ concrete; they give the spaces a strong physical presence. At the same time, their material reticence allows the art to occupy the foreground.
The expansion building is connected subterraneously to the existing neo-classical 1930s structure designed by Paul Bonatz and Rudolf Christ. Now, Switzerland’s largest publicly accessible art collection has a further 3,295 m² on which to present its prominent works from the past 700 years.