As part of the ‘post-war city’, the Kulturforum was planned according to the paradigms of modern urbanism: openness, detachment, an efficient road system and widespread greenery. For this reason, the Kulturforum is not a forum.
A forum is a monumental civic space enclosed by walls, arcades and porticoes. A forum is first and foremost a precinct. On the contrary, characterized by an architecture of solitaires in a flowing semi-urban/semi-natural space, the Kulturforum is a campus; a field on which many institutional buildings are autonomously distributed according to an informal layout; a fragmented sequence of architectural islands and vacant spaces.
In this context, the prospect for civic form is far from being easily achieved, although – as the buildings by Hans Scharoun and Mies van der Rohe convincingly prove - there is certainly a case to be made for a self-sufficient civic form, pitched at a dramatically large scale, so as to stand against the genericity of its infrastructural environment.
The identity of the Kulturforum should be respected. At the very same time, given its deliberately public mission, its inherent lack of urbanity must be improved. A collection of autonomous object must be turned into a composition of mutually complementary ones. The urban quality of the Kulturforum is determined by the voids and perspectives between its buildings as much as by their architecture. The Kulturforum needs another Solitar. Yet, it does not need a stand-alone landmark. To regain clarity and consolidate its urban image, the Kulturforum needs an abstract yet site-specific intervention.
The building of the new Museum is a very simple volume with a square footprint of 55x55m, growing 5 floors above ground, for a total height of 41.5m. In its ultimate simplicity, the new Museum is a hybrid design, both delicate and imposing. Through the misalignment of the building from its immediate neighbourhoods, views onto and among the main monuments of the Kulturforum are retained. From within, the Museum is a very silent element; a quiet background for the art experience and a sublime machinery to observe the city; from the city, it is a very monumental element floating in the middle of the Kulturforum. In the evening, its translucent surface will provide a luminous reference for all the visitors approaching the area and the drivers running along Postdamerstrasse.
in collaboration with Okam Studio
German Ministry of Culture