It was perhaps inevitable that David Chipperfield would be the one who takes on the refurbishment of Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie. The most “modern” of contemporary designers, who through his works has been reaffirming for decades the relevance of the architectural modernity's cultural project, has now the occasion to operate firsthand on a major realization by the 20th century master.
The Neue Nationalgalerie is untouchable in its overall image and substance – stone podium, glass pavilion, steel cover – because it is protected both by timely regulations and by the aura that history has bestowed on it. At the same time, after five decades of public access, it has markedly aged in its structures, materials and technologies.
Chipperfield’s intervention is here even more silent than elsewhere, it implements strategies to disappear, it dictates a few compromises in order to achieve this goal. The basement’s granite slabs are dismantled, classified and repositioned, following the restoration of concrete’s structures. A thicker laminated safety glass is used in order to prevent breakages on the main hall’s façade, but a decision is made to use mono-glazing in a non-thermally broken construction. The standards of conservation fortunately prevail over those of energy performance.
At the Neue Nationalgalerie Chipperfield lives up to the expectations and proves able to “return the beloved patient seemingly untouched except for its running more smoothly”. To conclude, it is interesting to notice how the same conservation-oriented approach also applies to software components which are usually overlooked. Within the new museum telephones, elevators, radiators and vending machines from the 1960s survive as exhibited objects, often deprived of their original function but “rescued” as evidence of a material culture that has animated the building during a long-gone era.
- Neue Nationalgalerie refurbishment
- Berlin, Germany
- David Chipperfield Architects
- Partners David Chipperfield Architects:
- David Chipper eld, Martin Reichert, Alexander Schwarz
- Project leaders:
- Daniel Wendler, Michael Freytag
- Structural Engineer:
- GSE Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH Saar, Enseleit und Partner
- Restoration consultant:
- Pro Denkmal GmbH
- Landscape architect:
- TOPOS Stadtplanung Landschaftsplanung Stadtforschung
- Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz represented by the Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung
- 13,900 sqm