Previous practices in museum construction are no longer affordable today, and in light of global climate change, are also no longer defensible. Museum Brandhorst is one of the first – if not the first – museum buildings to adopt a holistic and sustainable ecological concept.
This is particularly evident in the climate control and lighting systems, as well as the façade design. Today’s necessary air conditioning systems and their concomitant cooling technology typically emit large quantities of unutilised energy into the environment. Subterranean district-heating pipelines and heat-dissipating buildings with deep foundations also contribute to this issue. To the detriment of microbiological equilibrium, the temperature of the groundwater in inner-city areas now exceeds 20°C. In the area surrounding the museum, the temperature level is similarly high. For this reason, Museum Brandhorst utilises the heat energy of the groundwater: heating pumps draw out the water’s energy, which benefits the ecology, and makes it available for use in controlling the temperature of Museum Brandhorst.
The previously described upward-displacement air-conditioning is not just beneficial to the museum, but also saves energy. In contrast to conventional mixed ventilation, it distributes the conditioned air at much lower velocities and thus requires reduced ventilator output, as well as 50% less air quantity. This prevents draughts – which are unpleasant for visitors – and contamination of the surfaces of the works on exhibit.
The museum is breaking new ground in terms of exterior glazing: in conventional buildings, the warmth produced by sunlight must be expelled by energy-consuming ventilation. In Museum Brandhorst on the other hand, the cleverly selected exterior glazing around the upper floor of the gallery does not just reduce direct light exposure, but primarily serves to reduce the need to heat the spaces beneath it. Additional energy savings are achieved through the used interior air, which ascends from the galleries up into the hung luminous ceilings, thus helping to control the climate conditions in the ceiling cavity.
Museum Brandhorst even contributes to the improvement of environmental conditions through its innovative façade. Just as in other bustling major cities, the local inhabitants are forced to endure continual traffic noise. The façade – comprised of perforated, folded sheet metal – and the 36,000 rods suspended in front of it, counteract this noise pollution: they absorb the sound and thus reduce the traffic noise in the surrounding streets.
Considered building physics and modern technologies create ideal conditions – the precondition for the long-term preservation of the Brandhorst collection’s valuable exhibits. In doing so, the building’s operators, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the associated Doerner Institute, are not just following their “stable is safe” policy, but are also meeting their social responsibilities and obligations regarding ecological targets: a lasting reduction in energy consumption for electronics and heating, and significantly lower CO2 emissions in comparison with conventional museum buildings.