In 1997 David Chipperfield Architects won an international competition for the restoration of Friedrich August Stüler’s Neues Museum, originally built between 1841 and 1859. Located on Museum Island in the heart of the former East Berlin, the building was initially constructed to extend the space of the Altes Museum, built immediately to the south by Stüler’s teacher Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The original design had formed part of an overall architectural concept for Museum Island – prompted by Friedrich Wilhelm IV – of a series of art and archaeological museums styled so as to promote a greater appreciation of classical antiquity. Among these museums, and in terms of its construction and rich interior decoration, the Neues Musem was considered the most important monumental Prussian building of its era.
Seen today alongside the four other reconstructed museum buildings on the island, Stüler’s Neues Museum was the only structure that remained ruined from the war for almost five decades – a contrast that demonstrated ideas of history and decay in a compelling and powerful way, although throughout the building the degree of destruction varied greatly. Certain interiors survived almost completely, with elaborate finishes and ceiling frescos still intact, while other building elements existed only as the enclosures of a gaping void. The power of the ruin not least stemmed from this exposed brickwork shell, investing the building, 150 years after it was first imagined, with the indelible presence of a picturesque classical ruin.
Given this evocative yet inaccessible space, the restoration of the Neues Museum follows a principle of conservation rather than reconstruction – the design gives back only enough context so that the significance of the whole structure and the sequence of spaces contained within it are legible. Accordingly, the missing north west wing and south east bay are rebuilt, the enfilade of rooms is restored, and the stair and courtyard spaces are designed so as to maintain elements of the building’s own decay. The foundation plate will be sunk, so that a needed additional level for exhibition space can be gained, and providing connections to the neighbouring buildings at this level. In this way, the new Neues Museum and its collection of Egyptian antiquities should navigate carefully between de-historicised reconstruction and monumentalised preservation.
Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz / Bundesamt für Bauwesen & Raumordnung
David Chipperfield Architects
C. Abel, P. Auer, A. Baumann, T. Benk, J. Bennke, F. Borho, N. Bredalla, D. Bruns, K. Buchholz, J. Bunje, D. Chipperfield, M. Duleba, A. Dunham, K. Gursch, H. Eggers, M. Fiegl, A. Flohrschütz, A. Fonteyne, R. Foster, M. Freytag, A. Fritzsch, I. Heide, A. Hengst, M. Hohmann, I. Karig, M. Kaune, M. Kley, R. Krause, H. Langston-Jones, M. Maire, C. Marx, M. Mathias, W. Mayer-Biela, P. McInerney, I. McKnight, C. Melzer, V. Mommens, G. Morgan-Harris, H. Müller, R. Nys, P. Pfeiffer, M. Pongratz, M. Randel, M. Reichert, M. Rohde, F. Rusch, D. Saik, E. Saleina, S. Sandberger, E. Schad, A. Schlegel, A. Schwarz, L. Schwind, H. Shin, G. Smith, F. Steinbächer, H. Stummel, D. Suradny, B. Witt, G. Zampieri, M. Zogrotzski; J. Harrap, C. Wilson
Julian Harrap: J. Harrap, C. Wilson (restauración restoration architect); Pro Denkmal: U. Bennke, J. Bunje, W. Frey, J.Schröder, T. Bremen (supervisión de restauración restoration supervision); Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten: A. Hermening, M. Levin, N. Levin, L. Monsigny (paisajista landscape architect); Ingenieurgruppe Bauen: G. Eisele, M. Filian, S. Glomb, Ke. Gscheidle, D. Rützel, S. Rosenberg, K. Schmidt, J. Seiler (estructura structure engineer); Jaeger, Mornhinweg+Partner Ingenieurgesellschaft: X. Calvo, E. Göppel; Volkmar Grossman Kunst und Museumsschutz Beratungs- und Planungs- GmbH: J. Buchholz, W. Fuchs, J. Haack, L. Henske, W. Liebert, T. Schöne (instalaciones service engineer); Kardoff Ingenieure Lichtplanung (iluminación lighting); Architetto Michele de Lucchi S.r.L (exposición exhibition); Lubic & Woehrlin Architekten (dirección de obra site supervision); Ernst & Young, Prof. Weiss & Partner Projektsteuerungs-mbH (gestión controlling); Nanna Fuetterer (aparejador quantity surveyor)
Johannes Bennke, Achim Kleuker