Mies in Berlin

In Domus 1021, David Chipperfield refurbishes the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. In domusweb.it we publish the original project by Mies, from the September 1969 issue.

Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlino

Originally published in Domus 478, September 1969

(…) The project by Mies van der Rohe, dating to between 1962 and ’65, was already known through a publication edited by Werner Blaser, which showed it to maintain close links with the earlier project for the Sala Bacardi, Santiago, Cuba (1957) and, even more immediately, with that for the Georg Schäfer Museum Schweinfurt (1960). The new building is on two storeys, one of them partly below ground level. The above-ground storey consists of a single, square, glass walled hall with sides 51.80 m long and, therefore, an area of 2,683 sqm. This upper hall is in the middle of a wide terrace, 110x105 m long, elevated above street-level and accessible from the street by three flights of steps. The lower storey, which has an area of about 10.000, extends below this terrace. The various rooms of this storey are reserved for the permanent collections and will also include the library, offices restaurant and miscellaneous services.

The large upper hall will be used to house temporary exhibitions. It would appear that a gallery partly below ground level is hardly practicable because of the impossibility of providing natural lighting. This difficulty has, however, been got over by placing the exhibition space in the frontal area, which looks out, through continuous plate-glass, on a ample sunken courtyard. The lower floor, in reinforced concrete, follows a modular square grid pillars at intervals of 7.20 m. In the portion facing the courtyard, these pillars are set back in order to allow the plate-glass front to be continuous. The upper floor is entirely in iron: a huge ribbed slab, more than two meters thick, supported by eight symmetrically arranged pillars which do not coincide with the corners, thus leaving them free. Each of the eight pillars is T-shaped so as to give cruciform horizontal section. (…)

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