Herzog & de Meuron

The “Kunstkiste” (Art Box) is a museum project designed specifically to house the holdings of German art collector Hans Grothe. The collection is devoted to post-war German art up to the present-day with special emphasis on the seventies. The rooms in the museum have been planned in conjunction with the artists’ concepts for the hanging of their works. There are rooms for Beuys, Graubner, Baselitz, Richter, Polke, Lüpertz, Penck, Immendorf, Horn, Rückriem, Ruthenbeck, and Kiefer.

The museum is designed to express the close relationship between art and architecture and, more importantly, between the artists and the collector. The rooms are all a uniform 5m/16.4’ high, so that there is no hierarchical distinction between the building’s three floors of exhibition space. Daylight comes in through floor-to-ceiling slits in the walls – overhead daylight was ruled out for technical, architectural and financial reasons.

The site of the museum was predetermined by the layout of the Museum Forum, consisting of the Bundes Kunsthalle designed by Axel Schultes and the Bonn Museum of Fine Arts designed by Gustav Peichl. The narrow plot remaining on the southwest side of the Forum left room only for a very distinctive, elongated building that has proved extremely attractive not only in architectural terms but also as a museum space.

The slender, three-story structure rises above the horizontal spread of the other two museum spaces and adds a sense of closure to the Forum without forming a full-length barrier against the outside. The building is a homogeneous, solid, single-walled concrete construction, where floors, ceilings, walls, facades, and roof are all made of one and the same material, concrete. The varying thicknesses meet static and thermal specifications, while a range of reinforced, pre-stressed, or porous concrete is used as needed. Melting snow and rainwater running down the façade from the roof lend the structure the appearance of a boulder. Moss and lichen will cover the concrete exterior with a thin layer of flora on the shady side, similar to the frontage of the Ricola building in Mulhouse, France.

Herzog & de Meuron, 1996






Hans Grothe, Duisburg, Germany
Architect of record: Höhler + Partner, Aechen, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: Kempen Ingenieure, Aechen, Switzerland
Mechanical Engineering: Ingenieurgesellschaft Kruck mbH, IKG, Mülheim an der Ruhr
Building Data
Gross floor area (GFA): 32'636 sqft, 3'032 sqm
Gross volume (GV): 704'563 cbft, 19'951 cbm


Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 1992-1996. The Complete Works. Volume 3.”
Edited by: Gerhard Mack. Chinese ed. Beijing, China Architecture & Building Press, 2010. Vol. No. 3.

Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 1992-1996. Das Gesamtwerk. Band 3. The Complete Works. Volume 3.”
Edited by: Gerhard Mack. 2nd adv. and rev. ed. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2005. Vol. No. 3.

Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): “El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 1981-2000. Between the Face and the Landscape. The Cunning of Cosmetics. Entre el Rostro y el Paisaje. La Astucia de la Cosmética.
2nd adv. and rev. ed. Vol. No. 60+84, Madrid, El Croquis, 2005.

Herzog & de Meuron. Natural History.
Edited by: Philip Ursprung. Exh. Cat. “Herzog & de Meuron. Archaeology of the Mind.” Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. 23 October 2002 – 6 April 2003. 2nd ed. Baden, Lars Müller, 2005.

Wilfried Wang: “Herzog & de Meuron.”
3rd adv. and rev. ed. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 1998. (= Studiopaperback).