David Chipperfield

New National Gallery-Ludwig Museum . Budapest

David Chipperfield . + liget budapest

Competition proposal. Finalist.

The Varosligeti Fasor axis projects the city's urban configuration into the centre of the park. The layout of the quadratic site within the park adopts this configuration. The square generates a decumanus, oriented towards the Szechenyi Bath. This rational, urban configuration is superimposed with the organic, floral order and design vocabulary of the park, which is arranged in the English style as an idealised landscape, surrounding the perfectly solitary, quadratic building on all sides. The interlacing of the two contrasting arrangements enhances the aesthetic presence of both and leads, in a play of antitheses, to a higher, virtually aesthetic unity between rationality and nature.
A system of garden walls, which are archaeological in their appearance, is generated by the new composition and give the landscape a new order, while incorporating the existing trees to the greatest extent possible. These walls modulate the site, opening up the terrain towards the museum in its centre and thus allowing for ground-floor access to two of the building’s three main levels.
The three main floors with a clear inside height of 6.5 metres are freely spanned by 2 metre high, quadratic grids, which rest on four external building volumes and one central volume. The flowing universal space in between is held by the four external volumes. Between the volumes the space opens up through protective cantilevers into the depth of the park.
The fluid space is devoted to exhibition and foyer areas, while the remaining programme, the required vertical circulation and the technical shafts are accommodated in the four external building volumes. The vast floor heights allows for a mezzanine floor to be established in the outer volumes.
The central volume, housing the sculpture courtyard, cuts vertically through all three floors and has zenithal lighting. Daylight seeps into the exhibition galleries through its double layer cladding crafted from translucent marble. As a shimmering volume in the centre of the floor plan, the courtyard volume organises the route, comparable to the Pantheon in Schinkel's Altes Museum, without being directly accessible in the upper floors. In direct proximity to the central sculpture courtyard, the main staircase, linking the three exhibition floors, is likewise lit from above.
A coffered ceiling allows the column-free space to be divided flexibly through room-height partition walls. The ventilation is completely incorporated into the ceiling, making it possible to integrate entirely closed rooms into the flowing space. The light ceiling can be individually controlled within the ceiling grid. Behind the acoustically effective membrane, LED lights enable the intensity and tone of the light to be altered independently. Highlighting can be added individually.
The exhibition spaces have a clear structure. The permanent exhibition of the New National Gallery is situated on the uppermost floor. The floor below houses the temporary exhibition, the main foyer and the main entrance from the south in the Varosligeti Fasor axis. The Museum Ludwig is situated in the lower storey with the possibility of a separate entrance from the east. This organisation provides the possibility of a continuous tour route through all exhibition areas as well as separate access to the different exhibition areas. The ground level access of both lower floors furthermore facilitates separate opening times for the shops, cafes and conference areas.
Art-handling, back-of-house and parking are located in the basement storeys, while the GAIA lab is housed in one of the outer volumes on the uppermost floor. As is the case for the sculpture garden, the lab will have zenithal daylight from above.
The reduced palette of materials is complemented by the facade of the building volumes, made out of slabs of translucent white recycled glass ceramic (Structuran) and the travertine of the garden walls. Vertically a sequence of attractive, mineral materials addresses the theme of light, ranging from opaque travertine to the opal materials of marble and Structuran to transparent glass.
In contrast the horizontal is defined by the steel structure and is more passive in terms of material.
The architectural language of the New National Gallery and Ludwig Museum embodies, in a modern way, key models of museum architecture, generating an ideal architecture which will remain relevant in the long-term. The architecture avoids fashionable trends, aiming to provide an appropriate home for the canonical collection of a national gallery. It provides space for art from the 19th century to the contemporary including the future without replacing the art itself through architecture. In a calm, protected yet accessible atmosphere, the building allows for an ideal encounter between visitor and art. Its magnificent location in Budapest's City Park results in a dense, aesthetic experience of art, nature and architecture, enabling the visitor to see the city and its art with new eyes.

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