Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
Although we have been planning and executing projects with Rémy Zaugg for years, it did not mean that the design of his studio was clear to us from the start. Over the past thirty years, Rémy Zaugg has devoted himself, like no other artist, to finding and defining a suitable architectural context for the presentation of art; he has even published a textbook on the subject (Das Kunstmuseum, das ich mir erträume, oder der Ort des Werkes und des Menschen, Cologne, 1987 / The Art Museum of My Dreams, or the Place for Works and People). Even so, he wanted to address the question of his own studio without an architectural a priori.
The resulting studio functions equally as the artist’s place of work and as a place to present and view art, i.e. a small museum. As an exhibition space, the studio was a kind of prototype for the planning of the Tate Gallery of Modern Art, having given us the first opportunity to try out the concept of overhead lighting, projected for the museum in London. This overhead lighting is so simple that one wonders why it hasn’t been used in museum architecture before. Is it too simple, too primitive or not distinctive enough to bring out the individuality of the designing architect? Actually, the opposite is true. Thanks to its almost spectacular simplicity, the exhibition space acquires a peacefulness and concentration to which we are hardly accustomed in conventional museum spaces with their all-glass ceilings, suspended overhead lighting or ceiling grids.
Translucent slabs of glass inserted flush into square openings in the ceiling produce even, bright daylight. The amount of incoming sunlight can be tested on site by the simple means of applying self-sticking film to the overhead domes from above. This eliminates the multilayered roof construction, so popular among architects, and the elaborate technology required to operate it. Standard industrial elements were quite adequate for the roof domes, the more so since a private studio does not call for complex technical installations.
The two studio spaces are of the same height but differ in floor plan and placement in relation to the park-like garden. This simple arrangement allows for considerable flexibility in the use of the two rooms. Since Rémy Zaugg generally works on several projects at once, which he executes alone or with assistants, it is important to be able to vary the work spaces in the new studio (and in various other spaces that he has been using as studios over the years) and adapt them to the respective situation.
The walls of the building are fair-faced concrete; because we felt this material best complemented the patrician villa next to which the studio has been erected. Rainwater, collected on the surface of the roof, runs down over the concrete wall of the studio facing the villa and seeps into the earth next to a large tree.
The way the rainwater seeps into the earth and the typology of the building resemble to the near-by factory of Ricola Europe SA. Both buildings have two symmetrically constructed porticoes, but they fulfill very different functions. In the artist’s studio they form an outside extension to the interior space, an outdoor addition to the work area that can be used, for instance, to clean and dry silk-screening tools. In addition the protruding roof spatially encompasses the old garden wall of the adjoining factory premises.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1996
The site behind a fin de siècle villa before construction.
The wild garden of the old director’s villa.
Simple Plexiglas inserts were used as skylights.
Floor and ceiling plates of the studio cantilever to form an anteroom on both sides that serves as an interim area between park and workspace.
The studio as a place of silence and concentration that can be opened towards nature.
The new studio building forms a yard space towards the freshly planted row of trees at the perimeter of the property.
The studio can be used as a work and exhibition space; view of the smaller of the two rooms.
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