Christ & Gantenbein: Kunstmuseum Basel extension - best architects 17

Christ & Gantenbein

Kunstmuseum Basel extension

best architects 17

public buildings


Basel / Switzerland


Stefano Graziani


The extension of the Kunstmuseum Basel redefines a prominent spot in the city centre. As a facility for the exhibition and preservation of art as well as events, the new structure signals both a fresh start and continuity. The expanded museum consists of two buildings, which together present a unified presence on the cityscape. The connection between the main building and new wing beneath the road is not an underpass but rather an ensemble of large open spaces leading into a large hall that serves as a foyer, gallery, stage, experimental space, auditorium and function room rolled into one. The new exhibition spaces have a powerful physical presence, with space-defining elements staged as clearly articulated conjoined parts. The grey brick façades exude the timeless and archaic character of ancient ruins. They were designed as self-supporting, monolithic masonry walls. The articulation of the exterior is rendered tangible by way of the brickwork’s varying shades of grey as well as a frieze executed in fine relief. LED strips have been inserted into the grooves of the frieze blocks to illuminate the hollows between the bricks, making the wall begin to glow. The new wing speaks the same language as the heritage building, yet tells a new story; it is not a repetition of what was there but a contemporary and forward-looking structure made to accommodate new forms of art and the engagement with it.