Kunstmuseum Appenzell

formerly: Museum Liner Appenzell

The museum building, dedicated to the oeuvre of Appenzell artists Carl August Liner and his son Carl Walter Liner, belongs to the category of the monographic museum. However, the rooms are not designed to house particular paintings by either of these two artists, but rather, are dimensioned to accommodate changing presentations of the work of father and son as well as exhibitions of contemporary art. The rooms are therefore more general than specific in nature. They are quiet, simple spaces that seek neither to exaggerate nor to compete with the works of art. They show a minimum of detail, have bright walls, poured concrete floors, and are illuminated by daylight coming in through windows set in the gabled roof overhead.

The dimensions of the rooms are relatively small to provide a concentrated and focused ambience for the individual paintings. The total exhibition area is divided into ten rooms, each measuring between 30 and 50 m2 in size. The varying size of the rooms is generated by an asymmetrically positioned wall running the length of the building as well as intersecting axes that define the spaces in decreasing size from south to north. The alignment of the doorways from room to room may be straight or shifted, allowing visitors to follow a direct or a meandering course through the museum. Two windows offer a view outdoors and facilitate orientation within the building. A small reading room and a room for slide and video presentations are placed at the north end of the building - that is, in the middle of the museum tour. The architectural opener for visitors is the spacious lobby with a counter for tickets and sales. As the first and largest room in the museum, it also functions as a place for receptions and lectures.

The building is constructed using in-situ concrete and aerated concrete masonry. Due to the massive construction and the north-orientated roof-lights only minimal climate control is necessary in the galleries. The vestibule projecting from the building volumetry is made of exposed concrete, illustrating the materiality and compactness of the construction on the exterior.

The illumination of the exhibition spaces, whose gables vary in height and breath, results in a 'zigzag form’ in the building volumetry. It reminds one, in a distant way, of the rows of gable roof buildings in the Appenzell villages, as well as of the more regular sawtooth roof forms of industrial and agricultural buildings. The roofs are clad in sandblasted sheets of stainless steel in order, on the one hand, to attain a diffusion of the reflected light, while on the other hand, a neutrality of the colour temperature. The facades are clad in the same material. The overlapping cladding and its shimmering grey colour show a distant resemblance to traditional Appenzell architecture with its shingled facades (and roofs that were once shingled as well) weathered to a silvery grey. The combination of facade and roofing in the same material produces an overall, irregular volume, like a small mountain range against the background of the Alpstein massif.

Location Appenzell, Switzerland

Programme 12 connected exhibition spaces, each measuring 30–50 m2, reading and media room, lobby with cloakroom; offices, technical and storage spaces

Commission 1996

Planning/Construction 1996–1998

Client Stiftung Museum Carl Liner Vater und Sohn

Gross Floor Area 1‘644 m2

Team G/G Annette Gigon, Mike Guyer, Urs Birchmeier (Project Manager)

Site Management Annette Gigon / Mike Guyer Architects, Zurich
Collaborator: Daniel Kaufmann

Landscape Architecture Kienast Vogt Partner, Zurich

Structural Engineer Aerni + Aerni Ingenieure AG, Zurich

Electrical Engineer Elkom Partner AG, Chur

Building Services Engineer Waldhauser Haustechnik AG, St.Gallen

Daylighting Consultant Institut für Tageslichttechnik Stuttgart, Germany

Lighting Consultant Lichtdesign Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Cologne, Germany

Signage Trix Wetter, Zurich

Photos © Heinrich Helfenstein
© Gaston Wicky

Awards Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture, 1999 – Finalist