David Chipperfield

kunsthaus . zurich


David Chipperfield . + baunetz

The Kunsthaus Zurich, built in the early 20th century with extensions from the 1920s, 50s and 60s, is to be expanded once again.










A spacious new building on the opposite (northern) side of Heimplatz is planned. Together with the Schauspielhaus (theatre) on the east side of the square, a ‘gateway to the arts’ is to be developed between the university quarter and Zurich’s cultural institutions in the city centre – a sequence of representative buildings, squares and green spaces situated in the area where the baroque city walls were razed to the ground, stretching from Heimplatz to the Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule (university). While the existing museum will predominantly house the Old Masters, the Giacometti collection, Swiss art and popular large-scale exhibitions, the new extension will display classic modernism and art starting from the 1960s as well as the ‘Buehrle Collection’ with its new focus on French painting and Impressionism.

The urban concept envisages a clear geometric volume, which stands assertively on the square. The creation of a link between Heimplatz and the public art garden to the north of the new extension through an axial hall, reaching from one end of the building to the other, forms a decisive organisational factor in the design scheme. The height difference between the two public spaces is used to establish a garden and city horizon. All public functions are situated on the ground floor facing the town, such as the entrance, cafe, museum shop and event space, as well as the delivery area. The first floor on the level of the garden and the second floor are both reserved for art only. The large hall links all these spaces, facilitating the orientation in the complex room structure while providing a central place of encounter between the art and the visitors. The basement floor accommodates art depots and further services and is linked underneath the square with the existing Kunsthaus building, allowing visitors to move easily between one part of the museum and the other.

The inner organisation is based on the classic idea of a ‘house of rooms’, establishing a relationship to the town through large windows. The exhibition spaces in particular are conceived as a sequence of differently sized rooms, which are calm in their proportions and materiality, providing optimum conditions for the presentation of art. Natural light occurs from the side and from above. It can thus be controlled and used together with artificial lighting, enabling a wide range of versatile lighting scenarios. The large openings together with the delicately structured façade crafted from Bollinger sandstone – the same stone used in the existing Kunsthaus building – mediate between the scale of the building and its surroundings, while the arrangement of the windows reflect the inner organisation and size of the rooms.

Client Zuercher Kunstgesellschaft, Stiftung Zuercher
Kunsthaus, Stadt Zuerich
Gross Floor Area 20,900 m2
Design Architect David Chipperfield Architects
Landscape Architect Wirtz International NV
Structural Engineer Ingenieurgruppe Bauen
Services Engineer Polke, Ziege, von Moos AG
Facade Consultant gkp fassadentechnik ag
Renderings David Chipperfield Architects



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