The Museum Brandhorst is situated in the north-eastern corner of the ‘Kunstareal’ that includes the Alte and Neue Pinakothek museums as well as the Pinakothek der Moderne. With its entrance at the junction of Tuerkenstrasse and Theresienstrasse the Museum Brandhorst forms a connection to the busy Maxvorstadt and lively university districts.
The building of Sauerbruch Hutton architects in Berlin is a long, two-storey, rectangular structure abutting a considerably higher, trapezium-shaped section that widens to the north. The precise contours of both parts are linked by a continuous ribbon glazing that culminates in the generous glazed area at the main entrance. Here a corner window running the full height of the building cuts boldly through the structure to the North West, ensuring that the spacious foyer with the museum ticket desk, bookshop and restaurant receive natural light from three sides and enjoy different views.
A Collection of Rooms
All galleries (with the exception of the Media Suite) have white walls and wooden floorboards of solid Danish oak which provide a neutral background for the artworks (most of which are installed on the walls). Their lightness, colours and materials ensure a naturally airy atmosphere. The architecture allows enough room for the artworks while, at the same time, the variety of different spaces form what can really be termed ‘a collection of rooms’. The Museum Brandhorst occupies three exhibition areas with an average ceiling height of 9 metres, and they are connected by stairs finished in oak. The large rooms of up to 450 sq. metres with hanging heights of up to 9 metres are on the upper floor. Ceilings with a textile finish distribute the light evenly throughout the rooms and subtly adjust to the changes of natural light. The polygonal room above the foyer was created especially for Cy Twombly’s famous masterwork ‘Lepanto’, affording the twelve large-format pictures a panoramic display. Smaller galleries are on the ground floor. They are arranged as a staggered line of rooms which open up surprising views of still more works of art. Although daylight fills the rooms from high-level windows at the side, the 7-metre-high gallery, set at right angles, is also lit by a large side window. In the basement, the centrally located, 460 sq. metres wide and 7-metre-high atrium receives natural light directly from above. The smaller adjoining galleries for photographic works and works on paper are illuminated exclusively by artificial light. The Media Suite for video and electronic art on the lower floor has been designed as a black box.
The Multi-Coloured Façade
The façade looks like an abstract painting and draws attention to the building’s function as an art museum. It comprises various layers with different functions. On top of the building's substructure and insulation there is a layer of horizontally folded sheet metal with fine perforations. In front of this, 36,000 ceramic rods have been fixed vertically. These are finished in 23 different coloured glazes and fall into three groups of shades and tonality, accentuating the impression optically that the building is made up of three separate, interlocked volumes. Walking past the building, the surface of the façade seems to alter. There are countless variations in the appearance of the materials and the structure: seen from an angle the vertical ceramic rods form one smooth surface; seen face on, the horizontally emphasized background is visible and becomes the dominant feature. From a distance, the groups of different colours blend into neutral shades, each with a different brilliance and tonal impact. From close to, each of these fields becomes broken down into its component colours.