Photography: Rory Gardiner
Neues Museum is without a doubt one of the greatest architectural achievements of the 21st century. It is a project that deals with layers upon layers of some of the most complex questions and challenges architects face today and still manages not just to solve the puzzle but to create a work of art that architects will turn to for decades if not centuries for inspiration.
Moving through the building the spaces and exhibitions, millennia and centuries, seem to merge seamlessly, yet are still distinctively different. The large terrazzo like blocks, forming the main staircase is reminiscent of the monumental architecture of the New Kingdom of Egypt, stretching out like the feet of a great sphinx, timeless and mysterious and still strikingly contemporary. It doesn't really matter though as you walk around through the maze of rooms and courtyards: what's new or old, restored or recreated, contemporary or classical, or even building or artifact. It all comes together into one coherent impression that result in a sort of quietness. In which old and new elevate each other in a respectful and reconciled way.
Perhaps this quiet cohesiveness about the building is a consequence of one of the projects main "concepts", to let new and old merge smoothly through shades of grey instead of contrasting each other.
Site Plan - Museum Island - 1. Bode Museum 2. Pergamon Museum 3. Alte Nationalgalerie 4. James Simon Gallery 5. Altes Museum 6. Berliner Dom 7. Lustgarten
Plan - Ground Floor - 1. Main Entrance 2. Vestibule 3. Fatherland Room 4. South Vestibule 5. Employees' entrance 6. Flat Dome Room 7. Café 8. Void above Greek Courtyard 9. Ethnographical Room 10. Historical Room 11. Void above Egyptian Courtyard 12. Hypostyle 13. Tomb Room 14. Mythological Room. © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Elevation East with the main entrance. © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Elevation West towards Kupfergraben canal. Now with James Simon Gallery in front. © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Aerial view of the site from 1985. In the background Alte Nationalgalerie and Pergamonmuseum. © SMB / Zentralarchiv
The Staircase Hall after the destruction of WWII and decades of decay © SMB Zentralarchiv / Photo Rosa Mai
The reimagined Staircase Hall.
Plan - Level 0 - 1. Egyptian Courtyard 2. Greek Courtyard 3. Connection to the Altes Museum 4. Connection to the New Entrance Building 5. Connection to the Pergamon Museum 6. Mechanical Equipment Room © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Plan - Level 2 - 1. Staircase Hall 2. Greek Room 3. Platform above Egyptian Courtyard 4. Apollo Room 5. North Dome Room 6. Room of the Niobids 7. Bacchus Room 8. Roman Room 9. South Dome Room 10. Medieval Room 11. Modern Room © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Section through courtyards. © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam
Section through Staircase Hall. © David Chipperfield Architects / studio esinam