Museum Brandhorst

Ecological Concept

Many of the technical innovations found in the field of museum architecture today cannot be sustained financially in the long run and, with regard to global climate change, are no longer viable alternatives. The Brandhorst Museum is aware of its responsibility and is one of the first, if not the first museum building based on a comprehensive and sustainable ecological concept. This can be seen especially in the ventilation and lighting systems as well as in the design of the building’s façade.

The air conditioning systems needed in many buildings and their inherent cooling equipment generally release vast quantities of wasted energy into the environment. Even the use of a private water supply for the constant reduction of the temperature in cooling systems results in a rise in the temperature of the ground water. This situation is aggravated to a certain extent by underground remote heating pipes, for example, and extremely poorly insulated buildings. Based on findings made over the past few years, such conditions in inner urban areas in particular can result in the temperature of ground water rising to 20°C or more. The temperature in the immediate vicinity of the museum complex is also of a similar magnitude. What could be more obvious than to make use of the thermal energy available in the ground water by installing heat pumps? The positive ecological side effect is that cooled water is returned into the ground water cycle. By combining this technology with thermo-active building components the Brandhorst Museum can reduce its electricity consumption by around 26% and thermal energy by up to 50%, compared to museums with conventional heating and air conditioning systems with identically high requirements for constant ambient conditions for reasons of conservation. In all, this means that annual CO2 emissions are reduced by 390 tons.

Energy Efficiency
The fresh air ventilation system described above does not just bring advantages for the museum itself but also boasts enormous energy efficiency. As opposed to conventional mixed air ventilation, purified air is distributed at much lower rates, the system requires less power and approximately half the quantity of air. Consequently, annoying draughts and dirt deposits on the surface of exhibits can be avoided. Thermo-active building components enable lower ambient temperatures to be reached compared to conventionally heated museum spaces: an effect that is familiar from tiled stoves. Visitors find the galleries pleasantly and evenly warm although the actual temperature is lower.

The Museum Brandhorst has also set new standards with regard to its choice of external glazing. In conventional buildings, the heat generated by solar radiation has to be expelled by ventilation systems that consume a lot of energy. In this museum building, cleverly chosen external glazing outside the gallery spaces on the upper floor avoids not only direct sunlight but also prevents a rise in temperature in the rooms below. Additional energy is also saved by the spent air in the museum rooms rising beyond the suspended light ceiling and helping to ventilate the roof space.