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Max Ernst Museum

Project status: completed 2004
Client: City of Brühl –LVR
Team: smo architektur – van den Valentyn Architektur – Harms & Partner
Location: Brühl, Germany
Ara: 4.850 m2
Costs: 13.500.000 €

Prizes and Awards:
Award for exemplary buildings NRW 2005
Architectural Association NRW, Light Architecture Prize 2005
DAM German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt

Publications (selected):
Max Ernst Museum
Author: Andreas Rossmann
Publisher: Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln
ISBN 3-88375-949-x

Max Ernst Museum RE-PLAY
Author: S. Mad Oreyzi
Publisher: Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln
ISBN 3-88375-868-x

ART SPACES
Architecture and Design
Publisher: daab
ISBN 3-937718-79-6

MuseumsKunde
Issue 70 2/05
Publisher: Deutscher Museumsbund
ISSN 0027-4178

K.WEST
NO. 03
Publisher: NRW KULTUR
ISSN 0027-4178

A10 new European architecture #6
ISSN 1573-3815

md International magazine of design
11-2005
ISSN 0343-0642

BAUMEISTER B11
Nov. 2004
Callwey Verlag

As the native town of Max Ernst, the city of Brühl since 1980 houses the internationally renowned „Max Ernst Cabinet“. In 2001, the „Max Ernst Foundation“ is founded, on an initiative of the city of Brühl, a local savings bank, and the regional authority. The listed „Benediktusheim“ north of the Augustusburg Palace is now selected to become revitalised as a representative „Max Ernst Museum“, and receive a new extension.

In July 2001, the office van den Valentyn Architektur wins the international competition with the genuine idea to transform the badly modernized „Benediktusheim“ back to its original state, and to mirror its footprint, in the form of a tableau, into the park. That way, a floating plaza is created, which conceals below it the biggest building volume, the event or exhibition hall. In the spring of 2002, our office joins the project (Team smo – van den Valentyn). Our role is to analyse and redesign the entrance pavilion, which in the competition was conceived as a glass cube. But already at the outset of our work we discover that it is impossible to advance without considering the design of the entire new construction. While maintaining the basic concept, the task now is to strenghten the relation between old and new construction, and equally to develop the spatial and functional qualities.

To create a noticeable connection between old and new construction, the planning grid of the historic facade is taken as a basis for the construction grid of the new building. Accordingly, all building parts (walls, columns, openings, facades, and so on), as well as essential finishing elements are inscribed into this grid. For this artistic and structural connection between old and new, a stronger spatial and functional interlocking of the two building parts is necessary as well. Since to date there was only a connection on the ground floor level, the functions on the lower levels were cut off from each other.

Furthermore, the rooms of the new building are all situated 6.5 meters below ground floor level. It was initially reached by a long, single-flight stair. To facilitate the descent to the rooms on the lower level (special exhibitions, event hall), an intermediate level is created inside the space. The original long, single-flight stair is hence split up into two stairs. On the one hand, an open, light steel stair, which reaches up to the intermediate level (gallery), and on the other hand a monolithic second stair, which runs in the opposite direction and connects the gallery level to the bottom level (special exhibitions and event hall).

Also, the two additional, lower-level connections to the old building (cloak room, Café, secondary rooms) can now be attached to the new intermediate level.
To provide the underground rooms with daylight (enhanced spatial effect due to the game of light and shadows), as well as to create the desired visual connections between the levels (indicator for events on the lower level, orientation assistance), openings in the area of the entrance pavilion, on the the ground floor, become necessary. Thus, it is reasonable to assign this function – as a design parameter – to the entrance pavilion. Further, the pavilion ist not supposed to stant detached from adjacent building parts on the plateau, but to present itself as a point of crystallisation between old and new, overground and underground.

Resulting from this, the pavilion is to develop itself from the basement and its construction is to conform to the logical process ot the overal construction sequence: foundation > floor > wall > ceiling > etc. For instance, the shear walls of the entrance pavilion grow from the bottom plate of the basement and in piercing through the ceiling perforate the plateau in the form of skylights. At half height of the old building, this vertical movement merges into the horizontal, and the individual walls conjoin to a partly closed, partly open roof platform, similar to a tree, which grows from the ground and – through ramification and foliage – becomes a spatial figure.

The glazing of the entrance pavilion is placed according to functional and climatic requirements (shadowing, porch, canopy, shop, etc.), now following the sculpturally grown structure, now peeling away. Inside the pavilion, the individual functions and construction elements are arranged so as to follow an asymmetric layout concept. The resulting zones and niches, as well as changes of movement and view, offer the visitor a diversified experience of space. Also, the movement of the elevator in space is staged as a particular experience.

The perforated metal plate, cladding material for shaft and cabin, generates moirée effects during the ride, wich irritate our viewing habits and enable visitors to experience the travel in intervisibility with the museum space. As a special subject, the spatial design of the events hall is explored. The necessary acoustic measures are directly integrated into the construction, so that the space also gets a specific design. The overall contained selection of colours and materials inside the museum is to emphasize the natural impression – under the influence of light and shadow – and not disturb art appreciation.