A new Bauhaus-Archiv is born
The Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung has been undergoing renovation in accordance with monument preservation guidelines since 2018 and is now being expanded with a new museum annex. In the future, the annex will offer extensive space for new exhibitions and rooms for staging cultural educational activities. This will free up space in the original building, constructed in the 1970s and designed by Walter Gropius, for its extensive archive and library.
The Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung owns the world’s largest collection on the Bauhaus (1919–1933), the most influential school of architecture, art and design of the 20th century. Soon after the museum was built in 1979, it became clear that it was too small to accommodate the growing number of visitors and its rapidly expanding collection, and could no longer meet the evolving requirements of a museum with archival responsibilities.
The German federal government and the state of Berlin are jointly financing the total cost of the museum’s renovation and expansion.
facts & figures from the construction site
Date of completion: 1979
Architects: Walter Gropius, Alex Cvijanović, with Hans Bandel
Architect of the museum annex: Volker Staab
Usable area: 1,900 square metre (until 2018), 4,200 square metre (after reopening in 2025)
Exhibition space: 700 m² (until 2018), 2,000 m² (after reopening in 2025)
Room for approx. 600 visitors to comfortably view the collection presentation.
There are almost 60 contractors involved in building the new museum annex and renovating the existing archive – from the site fence to the steel-wood-structure for the transparent tower to the finish of the parquet floors.
Up to 130 construction workers are involved at the site simultaneously during the busiest phases.
Between 25 and 35 planners, including architects, civil engineers and specialist engineers, are involved in the construction process depending on the project phase.
The proximity to the Landwehrkanal, the inner-city location and the public water lines beneath the property were among the most daunting technical challenges. This required workers to take various “detours” to complete the excavation pit.
The excavation pit had to be dug almost seven metres deep.
(Reinforced) concrete is the most frequently used material at the site and provides the necessary stability for the museum’s basement level and the café/shop. The tower consists of a lightweight steel-wood-construction.
The most complex technical process was used for creating the foundation. Using a diaphragm wall grab, reinforced concrete diaphragm walls were installed to prevent groundwater from seeping into the future exhibition room.
The design competition
In June 2015, the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing issued an invitation-only call for proposals for the architectural design competition “Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Berlin”. After a two-day session on 21–22 October 2015, the jury selected the proposal by the Berlin-based architect Volker Staab as the first-place winner and recommended its realisation.
Competition procedure: In accordance with the announcement in the Official Journal of the European Union of 16 May 2015, 35 candidates were selected from a total 174 submissions for consideration in a previously announced competition procedure (competitive bidding in accordance with the Guidelines for Design Competitions (RPW) and the Procurement Law for Supplies and Services of Freelancers (VOF)). The competition organiser selected 15 architectural firms in advance for inclusion as participants. A total of 50 architectural firms were invited to participate, and 41 of these submitted proposals. The jury awarded the top five proposals first, second, third, fourth and fifth prizes, along with four honourable mentions.
The expert members of the jury were: Jo Coenen, Hilde Léon, Wolfgang Lorch, Elke Delugan-Meissl, Pat Tanner, Johannes Löbbert, Petra Vondenhof-Anderhalten, substitute: Brigitte Häntsch.
The judges of the jury were: Regula Lüscher, Tim Renner, Dr Sigrid Bias-Engels, Günther Hoffmann, Dr Annemarie Jaeggi, Dr. Niklas Maak, substitute: Hermann-Josef Pohlmann, Dr Konrad Schmidt-Werthern, Rosa Schmitt-Neubauer, Horst Grothues, Dr Markus Klimmer, Chris Dercon, Dr Kerstin Wittmann-Englert.
A Towering Symbol
One of the highlights of the new construction project is a glass tower which – together with the iconic shed roofs designed by Gropius on the existing building– is set to become the new architectural landmark of the Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung. This is where the museum’s main entrance will be in the future. The four upper levels will be exclusively reserved for the broad range of educational projects organised by the Bauhaus-Archiv. The construction of the tower marks the first time that the Bauhaus-Archiv will have space dedicated solely to “education and mediation”. Although these activities have long played an important role in the self-image of the archive, they will now take centre stage in terms of public visibility. As a place of discourse, encounter and experimentation, the tower exemplifies the tradition of the historic Bauhaus which was – first and foremost – a school.
In the “Digital Studiolo” on the first upper level of the tower, low-threshold activities will allow visitors to playfully acquaint themselves with the Bauhaus and become immersed in the extensive and multifaceted collection of the Bauhaus-Archiv. The second and third floors will provide space for innovative workshops, seminars and free drop-in activities. And on the top floor, a lounge will offer visitors a stunning 360-degree panorama view of the city. Staab Architekten consciously decided to forego stylistic references to Bauhaus architecture in favour of designing a building that embodies the spirit of the Bauhaus – with an eagerness to experiment and to explore the themes of our times. While the construction industry was navigating the challenges of industrialisation at the start of the 20th century, today’s architects are discovering how to take advantage of and implement cutting-edge computer-aided design methods. In their design of the future Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Staab Architekten developed an innovative steel structure consisting of 693 slightly tilted supports which create the filigree facade of the tower and support the weight of the upper levels.