M20 Competition
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Idea Competition for the Museum of the 20th century and its urban integration
Kulturforum Berlin, 2015


Art at the center: with its completely glazed foyer at ground level the new Museum of the 20th Century (M20) meets the promise of a cultural forum for everyone.
Here, large works of art would be able to radiate their aura in all directions. Access to this first space of the M20 could be gained from all sides via 16 doors.

Urban context, including external spaces

Exhibition galleries and the foyer forma linear configuration, that, like a central spine, structure the entire Kulturforum into comprehensible external spaces: on the one hand the narrower, linear space fo the street from the Matthäi Church to the Tiergarten, from which Rolf Gutbrod's Museum Cluster, that needs to be densified, as well as Hans Scharoun's Music Cluster are accessed, and on the other hand the wide and curved urban landscape along the Potsdamer Straße, that would take up three new, free-standing polygonal buildings in the manner of Scharoun's overall design (Practice Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Information Pavilion and the Mediathek of the State Library).
In this way the important north-south sight lines would be maintained. The sight line between Potsdamer Platz and the Piazetta that was not part of the original conception of the Kulturforum would be kept by placing a new tower on the reshaped, horizontal raised Piazetta.
The language of the landscape of terraces with their publically accessibly podia and plinths, as well as the sculptural courtyards, with their controlled access, would be taken up by the M20 (note the publically accessible bases of the Music Cluster and the State Library, as well as of the New National Gallery and the Piazetta, that is to be reworked).
Besides the glazed foyer, at the upper level the building's facade consists of bronze panels, thus forming a material as well as tonal connection between the black painted steel of the New National Gallery and the golden aluminium clad buildings of the Music Cluster.

Spatial Concept

The language of the architecture and its spaces is recessive, direct and concise. The museum is clearly structure in spatial terms. All neutral, orthogonal exhibition galleries are organized along the north-south axis and can be subdivided in different ways. The main staircase marks the central lateral axis. Immediately related to this are four elevator cores for visitors. In the same way the connection to the New National Gallery is clearly structured: the connecting tunnel to the M20 continuous along its western bay.
Wherever possible the exhibition galleries have double height spaces that serve as orientation nodes. These double height spaces are located on the central cross-axis of the building. At its two lower levels, the main staircase is treated like a set of terraces, thus permitting zenithal daylight to enter the lower floors.
The uppermost exhibition gallery can be fitted out with a shed roof. Tall windows as well as larger loggias on the south and smaller loggias on the north facade provide views of the surroundings.
The podium on the south side matches that of the New National Gallery. Within the podium of the M20 there are the delivery, visitors' services as well as part of the gastronomic services (in Summer, the external terrace area can be used). A linear sculpture courtyard to the west of the M20 provides glimpses of activities at the lower levels.
In the future, delivery to the M20 could also occur in a different way when the tunnel to the New National Gallery has been completed and delivery could occur via the access to the New National Gallery.

Landscape context

The larger spatial relations between the Kulturforum and the surrounding landscape architectural elements (Tiergarten, Landwehrkanal, Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz) would be consolidated along the existing spatial links. The urban landscape within the Kulturforum thus forms a transition between the dense urban structure of the southern part of the Potsdamer Straße on the other side of the canal and the Tiergarten.
The concept of the design by Valentien & Valentien (trapzeoids) is taken up in the extension of the churchyard in front of the Matthäi Church towards the north and to the west of the State Library. The churchyard itself, as well as the two gardens by Hermann Mattern are maintained in their singular geometric form. Besides the concentrated lawns, large scaled paving material that is typical for Berlin and as used at the New National Gallery would be laid out around the M20 as well as across the entire Kulturforum. Compacted sand surrounds the new trees.
The cross section of Potsdamer Straße will be reduced only in its width, not in the number of lanes, in the course of the installation of the new tram tracks down the median of the street. The median would be covered with grass, the new tram stop would be located next to the pedestrian crossing.
The new layout of the Kulturforum would in the long term offer the chance to gradually replace the avenue-like planting of trees by tree groups so as to strengthen the Kulturforum's connection with the Tiergarten as well as the the idea of the urban landscape.