The actual task of a museum, namely to be a place for works of art and a place for people who would like to encounter these works of art in peace, were the ones the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor committed himself to, in his own words, in his design for Kunsthaus Bregenz.
»The Kunsthaus is located in the light of Lake Constance. A body made of glass paneling, steel, and a stony mass from cast concrete, generating structure and space within the building. Seen from the outside, the building resembles a filament. It absorbs the changing light of the sky, the misty light of the lake, emanates light and color and, depending on the angle of view, the time of day, and the weather, permits something of an insight into its own inner life.«
Peter Zumthor, Architect
top: Sectional view A und B
bottom: Ground plan Foyer and Upper Floors
1880 m² Exhibition space
Adjacent to the vorarlberg museum and the Vorarlberger Landestheater, KUB positions itself as a self-assured gem within the center of the town and on the shores of Lake Constance. This is likewise true of the administrative building on the side towards the town center where, in proportions appropriate to several other smaller buildings on the square, the KUB Café is also located next to the administrative offices. Such a distribution of the premises increases focus, sensitizing perceptions to art, space, architecture, light, and enhancing self-awareness in Kunsthaus Bregenz.
bottom: Ground plan Basement Levels and Roof
1880 m² Exhibition space
The Ground Floor
The ground floor serves as a foyer with a ticket and catalogue sales counter and a cloakroom. These functions have been reduced to minimum, so that the largest part of the nearly 500 m² floor space can be employed as an exhibition space and – as required – as a multifunctional activity space. With its exterior walls, consisting completely of sandblasted glass, this floor emphasizes the supporting construction of three variously arranged exterior wall panels, which define the exhibition space throughout the floors, whilst at the same time separating the vertical access zones (stairwell, escalator, people and goods lift) from the actual exhibition space. Due to the uniform positioning of the entrances and exits, a tour of the three upper floors differs only in the heights of the spaces.
The Upper Floors
All three upper floors are designed as skylight spaces, enabled by an open light cavity located above the dust protection ceiling made of etched glass panels, into which light penetrates through lateral daylight gaps running around the building. The artificial light –likewise integrated into the cavity above the dust protection ceiling – supplements and replaces the daylight when required, the individual lighting sources remaining invisible to visitors.
The Basement Levels
Two basements complete the spatial scheme. A light well still provides some daylight to the higher basement level where, in addition to the sanitary facilities, the lecture and museum’s educational space is located, which is separated from the non-public areas (packing area, workshops, staff rooms) by light-permeable glass brick walls. An archive, storage areas, and the technical center are located in the lower basement.
The exterior of the exhibition building is defined by the striking glass façade. The air-permeable scaly skin, comprising semi-opaque glass paneling, mounted in front of the concrete core, ensures an initial filtering and the optimum refraction of daylight into the skylight ceilings of the exhibition floors. At night an inverted effect occurs: the artificial light radiates through the daylight gaps from the interior of the building, penetrating outwards through the glass skin. Technical service areas, fixed-mounted cleaning scaffolds and lifts are integrated into the filigree support structure between the building and the glass façade.