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Städel Museum extension by schneider+schumacher

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The new extension to Frankfurt's beloved Städel Museum, designed by schneider+schumacher and completed in February 2012, incorporates landscape, light, art, and subtle architecture.

The project is the result of an international competition to design the extension of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany that would extend exhibition space from 4,000 m2 to 7,000 m2. Among a select group of international architects, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gigon/Guyer, Jabornegg & Pálffy, Kuehn Malvezzi, Sanaa, UNStudio, and Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch Müller, schneider+schumacher was declared the winner in Spring 2008.

schneider+schumacher's winning design nearly doubled the exhibition area without compromising the openness of the museum— by burying the 27.568 m³ building beneath the museum's garden.

Beneath the gentle hill landscaped upon the museum courtyard, a domed roof—supported by 12 slim reinforced columns— looms over the new exhibition space. One hundred and ninety-five circular sky lights (varying in diameters from 1.50 m at the outer edge to 2.50 m at the highest point in the center) punctuate the concrete slab. These specially developed "eyes for art" highlight the multi-disciplinary nature of the new extension— the apertures may both be walked upon as a collective art object, while illuminating the underground space with a rich sense of daylight that may be controlled by integrated LED lighting and built-in shading elements.

schneider+schumacher envisioned a central axis to extend the museum along its historic spatial sequence. The central foyer and all vertical access points were remodeled to allow wheelchair access. Below the water tables, 160 deep piles anchor the structure to prevent it from floating. The new building also incorporates 36 geothermic piles that extend up to 82 m into the earth to provide heat for cooler months and cooling for warmer months. The compact underground building form, the geothermic heating and cooling strategies, and the large internal heat storage capacity together create an optimal room climate with minimal energy consumption.

As the Jury declared when awarding schneider+schumacher, "Frankfurt is given not only a distinctive and unique exhibition space, but a state of the art green building too."


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Project location: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Date of completion: February 2012
Photography: Norbert Miguletz
Words: Courtesy of schneider+schumacher