When Berlin regained the status of capital for a unified Germany, the buildings on the Museum Island once again became the focus of attention. Numerous new buildings as well as plans for large-scale renovations were commissioned. This included plans to renovate Pergamon Museum, built by Alfred Messel in 1920-1930. The world-class museum, renowned for its collections and exhibitions, needed to be adapted and expanded to allow it to pursue an enhanced exhibition and events program.
Diener&Diener emphasized the building’s unique composition, a uniqueness that is due not least to the fact that the exhibits and their containing structure form a unity. In stylistic and functional terms, the building stands as a single architectural object. Beyond this, Diener&Diener focused on the museum’s characteristic features that defined the piano nobile of massif antique buildings.
The Pergamon Museum’s two side-wings frame the new connecting wing that is inserted like a capstone. It serves as a new entrance and a connecting structure and creates a continuous gallery tour. The connecting wing is sufficiently transparent to maintain the openness of the Court of Honor, which looks out onto the city. And despite the fact that the wing has two floors, it does not conclude the courtyard with any greater finality than Alfred Messel’s original plan that called for a porticus.
The construction, modeled on the structure of a bridge or door latch, creates a strong sense of depth perception. In this it alludes to Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Figurine dans une boîte entre deux maisons, which served as reference model for the competition design.
The façade assumes the architectural solidity of a frontage building, while the ribbed glass texture gives it the lightness of a flowing curtain. This enables the building to integrate the antique architectural exhibits into the external appearance of its connecting wing while making them accessible to the gallery tour internally. Accordingly, the design is more than a mere extension: the connecting wing does not merely serve as a connecting clasp that enables a continuous gallery tour; it is a surreal glass box that inverts gravity and tectonics.
in Collaboration with Peter Suter
Competition: 2nd prize, 2000
Client: Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz
Location: Museumsinsel, Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany
Gross Floor Area (GFA): ca. 60.000 m²
Use / Function: Exhibition space, depot, entrance
Structural Engineer: Conzett, Bronzini, Gartmann