|Neues Museum Berlin|
His Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany, is clearly a nod to the great European classical tradition that stretches back from today to antiquity. The design was controversial because in Germany classical columns have strong and immediate echoes of Nazism's megalomaniacal architectural fantasies. But Chipperfield's is a classicism that is almost homely, and reflects a homage to Palladio rather than Hitler. This is a modest house for literature.
|Museum of Modern Literature Marbach, Germany|
|Museum of Modern Literature Marbach|
In 2008 David Chipperfield won the competition to become the architect of the extension to Zürich's Kunsthaus. The project is to be completed by 2015 and the new extension will house the wonderful Bührle Collection. Chipperfield was in Zürich earlier this month and talked about his plans for the Kunsthaus. As reported by the newspaper the Tages-Anzeiger, someone from the public remarked that it seemed like the extension was going to be a very big building. "Yes, it's a big building. It's a museum" Chipperfield answered. The new building will be across from the old building, creating a museum square, and behind the new building there will be a large garden. Why, he was asked, wasn't the new building further away from the old building, which would leave a big square? He answered that then you would get "a small garden and a stupid square". For me the key question was, had he designed this new building specifically for Zürich? He answered that he had not deliberately imitated anything typically Zürich or Swiss, but he had developed something that suits Zürich, because it is a quiet building. He concluded: "Zürich is a solid city, not Barcelona. It's a Zürich building."
I have earlier written on the major contemporary world architects who:
"take no account of the context, or the local, when designing their artworks. The buildings are meant to stand out, not to blend in, and are consequently designed with an absolute disregard for the local context. That’s why they would be equally at home anywhere, because they are at home nowhere."
David Chipperfied is an architect, I suspect, whose buildings are not outsized by his ego. It is so nice to find an architect who studies the urban environment before he stamps it with his idea.
|Planned extension of Kunsthaus|
|Old Kunsthaus on the left, Chipperfield's extension on the right|
Read more essays like this in my ebook about Zurich.