The design by the Berlin architect Volker Staab met with an enthusiastic reception – with a five-storey glass tower as the main entrance, a one-storey block along Von-der-Heydt-Straße for the bauhaus_cafe and bauhaus-shop, and with the exhibition areas placed underneath a plaza. The jury voted unanimously to award the first prize to the design and recommended that it should be implemented.
Extracts from an interview:
Mr Staab, what are the typological and functional requirements for a museum building in the twenty-first century?
In general, you could say that there can’t be any such thing as »the« museum in the twenty-first century, since one of the phenomena on today’s museum scene is the increasing specialization in content that is being seen. But there are certainly common trends – e.g., a shift away from the auratic treasure-chamber towards an open cultural location in which things are exhibited, preserved and researched and in which discussion and entertainment are not regarded as irreconcilable opposites.
The glass tower stands out as the striking architectural element in your design. The actual museum spaces are located underground. It is a sophisticated solution that convinced the jury. How did you come up with the idea?
As we saw it, the challenge lay in how to develop a new building that would be able to accommodate almost all of the public functions of the Bauhaus-Archiv, without relegating the important existing building to the sidelines or secondary status. The decision to place the exhibition spaces at the level of the slightly lower inner courtyard gives rise to a natural connection between the new and the old museum foyers, and the view of the silhouette of Walter Gropius’s building is preserved. The tower and the newly created wall along the square on the Von-der-Heydt-Strasse side create a new, symbolic entrance square for the ensemble.
In your view, what is the essential quality inherent to the existing listed building by Walter Gropius, and what influence did the building have on your own design?
The special quality of the existing building, in addition to its unique origins and story, is certainly its organizational structure, which is fundamentally shaped by the striking access route, the promenade architecturale. Although I’ve always had a few quarrels with this or that detail of the building, it’s impossible to overlook the iconographic power of the expressive shed roofs – which unfortunately also cause problems for exhibition organizers due to the large amount of light they admit. So a vital component of our design involved preserving precisely these qualities of the existing building and making use of them for the ensemble as a whole.
The full interview is available in the German / English catalogue Moving forward – Siegerentwurf und Preisträger für das neue Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, 2015 / Moving Forward – Winning design and prizewinners for the new Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, 2015,
published by Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Berlin 2015, 72 pp., numerous illustrations, price: € 9.50