I recentely read an article published online by Architectural Record on the Museum of Culture. A newly renovated museum project by Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, Switzerland. What struck me, at the end of the article was that there were so many comments that derided both the project and the architects that designed it. For the most part, the photos were not super great. A lot of them were shot on a cloudy day in addition to it being a really tough project to photograph due to the site and density constraints. It is also a renovation, with a budget I’m sure, so the existing portion of the museum remained modest
. But really, can all these armchair critics be correct? Or, should they zip it until they actually experience the building first hand? It’s kinda hard to do a taste test between Coke and Pepsi without actually trying them. This is my stance. So I made the trip to Basel to experience the museum myself. And…I came away quite impressed.
I had an idea where Münsterplatz was. Once there, the Museum der Kulturen Basel was easy to find. The gates lead into a beautiful entry courtyard that gently slopes into an all glass reception and bookshop foyer. From there, the museum is extremely easy to navigate. It is bright and clean and there are many opportunities to peer through a large window to gaze out onto Basel and the courtyard. The most controversial part of this building is the roof design. It is unconventional, yes. But it really does make an otherwise boring building (on the exterior) stand out with interest. And the hexagonal tiles, that play off the nearby Basel Cathedral, are quite nice, albeit a touch too dark for all the cloudy days that seem to encompass Switzerland. The aerial photos of the building portray the new roof design as though it was just plopped on without consideration to scale and context. Which is a correct portrayal. And that is the point! We are living in a time, now, where everything is fighting for our attention and we have less and less time to consume it. Buildings need to stand out and make a statement to attract visitors, just like the next widget. And this is another good example from the Herzog & de Meuron portfolio.
On view during my visit…Intrinsic Perspectives – Seeing other things differently, On Stage – The art of Beijing opera, and Chinatown.