Extension of Kunstmuseum Winterthur

The expansion of the Museum of Art in Winterthur, long planned and now realised in the form of a provisional structure, creates the spatial conditions to not only house temporary exhibitions, but also to be able to permanently present the extensive collection of the Kunstverein.

The new building is connected to the museum spaces of Rittmeyer & Furrer’s existing building by a bridge. The exhibition rooms of the addition are simple, rectangular spaces with sawtooth skylights facing north. By means of a simple grid the basic area measuring approximately 1,000 square metres is divided into spaces that vary in both size and proportion. During the tour through the rooms one enters the individual spaces at different locations, creating the impression for visitors of a subtle, spatial differentiation. Three large windows offer the possibility of an outward glance and orientation. Corresponding to the budget-related industrial-like manner in which the building is constructed and illuminated, the floor plan layout, void of circulation spaces, is also very economical and rational. The single storey nature of the museum allows – besides the illumination of all spaces with zenithal light – a flexible combination of the rooms with the various works of art.

The project aims to avoid a makeshift impression within the exhibition rooms, whilst obeying as far as possible the rules of a temporary structure in terms of design and material qualities. This understanding stipulates a layered, two-ply construction: common, long-lasting and - as far as possible - jointless materials in the interior spaces, and additive, recyclable elements that can be quickly mounted or de-mounted for construction, insulation and cladding. Hence, the interior of the building is largely built as a solid into the load-bearing, lightweight steel construction. Gypsum masonry forms large-surface, jointless walls, and a poured, floating granolithic concrete floor serves to accommodate heavy loads.

The building is insulated with standardised, steel sheet C-profiles filled with insulation batts. The C-profiles are mounted between the vertical members of the steel construction. The underside of the museum floor and the facades are insulated with these galvanised, perforated panels. They are protected from the weather by sheets of galvanised metal on the roof and vertical rows of glass profiles on the facades. The same glass profiles, set apart with open joints in between, serve on the ground floor to illuminate and ventilate the parking spaces, while they simultaneously “ground” the museum building, which seemingly hovers above the garage.

Location Winterthur, Switzerland

Programme 9 exhibition spaces, connection to the existing museum by a bridge, parking space on the open ground floor

Competition 1993, 1st Prize

Planning/Construction 1994–1995

Client Kunstverein Winterthur

Gross Floor Area 2'364 m2

Team G/G Planning/Construction: Michael Widrig (Project Manager), Stefan Gasser
Competition: Michael Widrig

Structural Engineer Branger & Conzett AG, Chur

Building Services Engineer Waldhauser Haustechnik AG, Basel

Daylighting Consultant Institut für Tageslichttechnik Stuttgart, Germany

Lighting Consultant Lichtdesign Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Cologne, Germany

Photos © Heinrich Helfenstein

Award Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture – Finalist, 1997