LOCATION Berlin, Germany
YEAR 2015
THEME Architecture, Cultural spaces, Museum
STATUS Competion
DESIGNERS Antonio Monestiroli, Tomaso Monestiroli, Luca Cardani
TEAM  Alessandro Ruberto
landscape Sara Protasoni

The competition is about a large museum for 20th-century art to be built between Mies van der Rohe’s 1969 Nationalgalerie and Scharoun’s 1963 Philharmonie. We took the relationship of the new museum to these two extraordinary buildings, particularly the Nationalgalerie, as the theme of the competition. What is striking about Mies’s building is its relationship to the city. The fact that the large exhibition hall, placed on top of a plinth and under the large roof, is completely transparent, that the most valuable part of the museum is totally open to the city and its citizens. We think that this extraordinary glass cell, protected by the large coffered roof, should continue to fulfill its urban function without hindrance or impediment. Everything must lead the eye toward the Nationalgalerie, which must retain its strong character.

The main choice was to work alongside Mies by asking ourselves what the great master would have done in our place. Taking his classroom buildings as an example, we thought that we could work in the same direction by proposing a building that, in addition to fully fulfilling its function as a museum, would be able to stand comparison with the Nationalgalerie.
The front of the new museum recedes from the building boundary of the lot to the west, thus constructing an open urban place, the center of the visual axis on the Neue Galerie, to emphasize the close relationship of continuity intended to be established with the Miesian lecture hall. Inside the new museum, relationships with the surrounding area are also decisive. From the center of the building, on the ground floor, at the intersection of the north-south distribution gallery and the large full-height central space, it is possible to see the four focal points of the entire intervention area: the Philharmonie to the north, the Neue Gallerie to the south, the Matthäikirch Platz to the west, and the Potsdamer Straße to the east. This place inside the museum becomes a kind of covered square the center of the whole composition. The continuity of urban spaces is ensured by the transparency and permeability of the ground floor of the new museum. Starting from the demands of the competition announcement, we have always tried to build large, compact, pillar-free spaces that can be subdivided and arranged as needed each time. A large full-height atrium lit with zenithal light is the center of the entire composition and distributes the three floors of the museum on two sides: the ground floor, lit by a perimeter glass wall, continues where the reception functions of both the public and the artworks are located, as well as administrative and commercial functions such as the restaurant and the bookshop; the second floor, where some medium-sized exhibition rooms are located, is lit entirely with artificial light; the second floor, on the other hand, dedicated to two large exhibition rooms, is lit by indirect natural light thanks to two large skylights. Two basement floors are added to the three above-ground floors: a first basement, connected directly to the basement of the Nationalgalerie through a tunnel to be built in the future, ensures the continuity of the exhibition route; the second basement houses the new museum’s storage rooms and large rooms dedicated to facilities. The distribution is ordered by four parallel blocks in which the services, facilities, and lifts (stairs, elevators, and freight elevators) are located, and by a perimeter ring that makes all the exhibition rooms accessible on each floor. Then there is a 6-meter-wide longitudinal distribution gallery on the first basement, ground floor, and first floor that allows a linear exhibition function to be accommodated along the way when necessary. A clearly recognizable orderly and hierarchical system set on the large central space 17 meters high in which works of extraordinary height can be displayed. This large space is overlooked by walkways that distribute rooms of different sizes and, from time to time, of different importance. Contributing to the definition of the building’s character are its construction and the materials used. The construction of the three above-ground floors is made of steel and is clad on the ground floor by continuous glazing on the long sides of the building, and on the first and second floors by a completely enclosed wall, built as a lattice and composed of slabs of veined green marble, a material that emphasizes the building’s civilian purpose. This part built cantilevered on the four sides of the building configures an elongated and closed volume that stands in contrast to the total openness of the Nationalgalerie and enhances its significance. On the main entrance front to the new museum are two volumes eight meters high, slightly more than the ground floor of the museum. The larger of these volumes, connected directly to the museum foyer, contains two overlapping exhibition halls. The other volume, much smaller, is the new Info Point



L. Cardani (edit by) Studio Monestiroli  Opere e progetti di Architettura Electa Milan 2021