The project for the extension of the Unterlinden Museum in Colmar by Herzog & de Meuron encompasses three dimensions: urban development, architecture and museography. It centers on the issues of reconstruction, simulation and integration. After the extension, two building complexes face each other across the Unterlinden square, whilst they are physically connected by an underground gallery. The medieval convent consisting of a church, a cloister, a fountain and a garden stand to one side. On the other side of the square, the new museum building mirrors the church’s volume and, together with the former municipal baths constitutes a second, enclosed court. Moved to the centre of the Unterlinden square, facing the canal, the entrance to the expanded museum leads to the convent, whose facade was delicately renovated.
Herzog & de Meuron revealed original wood ceilings and reopened formerly blocked windows looking out on the cloister and the city. The church’s roof was renovated and a new wood floor was in-stalled in the nave. Visitors walk down a new, cast spiral staircase leading to the underground gallery that connects the convent with the new building. The Ackerhof and the small house have facades made of irregular, hand-broken bricks, entering into dialogue with the convent facades in quarry stone and plaster that were redone many times over the centuries. A few lancet windows are cut into these brick walls; the roof gables are in copper. The new courtyard is paved in sandstone, as is the Unterlinden Square, while the enclosing walls are made of the same brick as the new buildings. At the heart of the courtyard, an orchard, the “Pomarium” is growing on a platform made of stone and brick.
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