July 18, 2007

Osnabruck 2, Duisburg (Germany)

Another project we visited in Osnabruck was the Fenix-Nussbaum-Haus, the "Museum without Exit," by Daniel Libeskind. Dedicated to the revered German Painter Fenix Nussbaum, the building form challenges visitors with disorienting rooms and forms to physically empathize feelings of loneliness and hopelessness that Nussbaum suffered from Nazi persecution. Organized in three separate parts (bridge, main section, corridor) each rendered with different materials (zinc-plating, German oak boards, raw concrete), the layout of the building is based on a system of lines that point to places of significance in the artist's life (Libeskind used a similar method of layout for the Jewish Museum in Berlin). Oblique-angled walls lined with non-linear groupings of Nussbaum's paintings, sloping windows, grate-covered holes between floors and structures cutting into rooms define the interior. Libeskind's buildings are engaging, but seem to always be caught in turmoil and tension, which tends to dampen spirits. (Again, this was intended... Libeskind's "Architecture as a communicative art.") Adding to the seriousness was a band of camera-chasing museum attendants. Outside there was a peaceful courtyard with angular views of the sky, each side framed by a different material.

We spent the night in Duisburg to visit a Herzog & de Meuron project, the Kuppersmuhle. Set in the harbor area, the project is a museum conversion of an early 1900's monumental brick warehouse building that houses the Grothe Collection (post-war German art). H&dM's design approach respected the existing warehouse, while adding subtly integrated moves that indicated the change of use (alongside other functions). Vertical slots of glazing have been carefully added along the edges of existing window openings in an asymmetrical array, bringing in light and opening-up views. These slots give a singular intensity, bringing a new dynamic life to the existing warehouse. A terracotta stair tower was added, also incised with slot windows, to connect the exhibit floors. Most of the existing load-bearing structure of the monolithic building was retained, though some floors were removed to accommodate taller gallery spaces (5m). For some reason the gallery doesn't open until 2pm on Wednesdays, sadly because of this we missed seeing the interior of the museum.

1 comment:

  1. "Herzog & de Meuron project, the Kuppersmuhle"

    Every structure of theirs I've seen in person has inspired a sense of recognizing their ingenuity in using materials and applying them to the specifics of theme/use/individuality of the building in question.


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