Bavarian History Museum
It is a necessary requirement that a new museum in the centre of a famous historical city is respectful of the extended history of its privileged setting. This does not imply, however, the building should aim to blend into its setting: rather, the building should reflect what is common and shared in the city and raise these elements to the level of art. Beyond this position of respect, a major new building should give something back to the city: it should create new ways to view and understand the city and provide new public spaces for collective activity. Against this backdrop, our proposal addresses the following questions: in the city, what is common to all?; how can a building attain dignity and stature whilst remaining modest?; in what ways is it possible to generate a new way of experiencing the city?; and what is the most compelling way to create a new public space for the city?
Museum as City within a City
How can what is common to all be raised to the level of art? The heart of the new museum is the series of large rooms that document the history of Bavaria. Our proposal presents this part of the museum as a city within a city: each era is presented within a discrete volume that when positioned together form an abstraction of the architecture of the city. These volumes have pitched roofs, dormers, and subtle variations in orientation and height. This cluster of buildings celebrates what is common to the citizens of Regensburg.
Museum raised onto a Podium
How can the museum attain dignity and stature whilst remaining modest? The second intent of the proposal is to further celebrate its architecture by raising it up onto a podium. The process of elevating creates several opportunities for the museum complex. The museum buildings themselves are given increased prominence and status adding to the grandeur of the building. This is especially relevant when the buildings are viewed from across the Danube. The raised platform itself becomes a terrace providing views across the river. The terrace is held within a colonnade of slender columns that frame views of the city and that contains and defines the extent of the museum; this terrace level is open to the elements further emphasising the idea of being within a city. The ground storey podium level contains the flexible elements of the museum complex: the special exhibition spaces, the entrances and the restaurant.
Sky Terrace to Experience the City
How can the museum enable visitors to experience the city in an unexpected and inspiring way? If the process of raising the museum onto a podium presents the museum to the city, then the sky terrace allows the city to present itself to the museum. This extensive terrace provides unique views across the centre of the famous medieval city. Most obviously this terrace provides beautiful views towards the Cathedral but it also allows an experience of the dense and varied roofscape of the city and the series of narrow and winding streets and alleyways that form the fabric of city centre. In addition to forming a viewing platform the sky terrace is a garden or mini-park: it is a place of contemplation and reflection in the midst of the city.
Museum Platz as a place of Public Activity
What is the most compelling way for the museum to create public space? The last element of the design concerns the creation of a new public square. The museum has two primary elevations: the north elevation addresses the river and the market place whereas the west elevation addresses the new Museum Platz. The museum’s generous entrance foyer faces west onto the Museum Platz and so visitors travel through this new city space as they enter and leave the museum. Although catering for some vehicle traffic this public square is principally conceived as a place of congregation and activity. Central Regensburg enjoys small-scale squares such as the Haidplatz and the Domplatz. Museum Platz is scaled in this tradition and is ideally suited for outdoor dining, seasonal fares, and small-scale theatrical and musical performances. Thus the museum becomes a catalyst for communal activity and cultural exchange in the city.
The museum concept is ambitious. It provides visitors with an exciting and memorable museum experience through a series of generous spaces laid out in a clear arrangement. Here the emphasis is on understanding a proud history, on the past. But beyond this it gives much more: it is both an expression of the collective character of the city and a means to enjoy and appreciate the city in new ways. Thus the museum addresses the present and the future as much as the past.
- Location: Regensburg, Germany
- Use: Museum
- Client: The City of Regensburg
- Status: Competition Entry, March 2013
- Area: 9,000 sqm
- Design Team: Chris Lee, Kapil Gupta, Martin Jameson, Bolam Lee, Patrick Usborne, Brian Cheng, Fei Wu, Lara Yegenoglu