A house for twentieth century art? Yes: A HOUSE, straightforward and specific. No abstract shape, because it could not be purer and more perfect than the Neue Nationalgalerie. Nor an organic, playful composition because it would be forever competing with Scharoun-like volumes. No contentiousness, no competition, no one-upmanship, yet no obsequiousness either, but rather a self-contained and self-evident shape and an architecture that is less about the architect as author and the contemporary moment and more about people and their encounter with art.
Matthäuskirche looks a little lost and uprooted today. We are building a neighborhood for it, like the buildings that used to line the street until they were destroyed. And we are interested in the material of the church—brick. It is a building material that can be interpreted as a digital field and yet, at the same time, there is something archaic about a brick wall.
A house as a built form has always existed and yet it eludes clear-cut fixation or programmatic classification. It is an open-ended shape, open to different uses and interpretations. Like the above-mentioned brick, the archaic shape of a house is a constituent of both contemporary digital culture and traditional civilizations of old.
The house for art of the 20th century looks very different from different sides. Is it a warehouse? A barn? Or maybe a railroad station? Isn’t it more like a temple with exactly the same gable proportions as the Alte Nationalgalerie by August Stüler? Whatever the case, it is a place to store things as in a warehouse, a place for provisions and supplies like a farm, and a place of encounter and connection like a railroad station. And—like a temple—it is also a place of quiet and contemplation for the perception not just of art but of oneself.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2016