Around six years after the decision was made to renovate the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin (New National Gallery in Berlin), the completed design is soon to reopen to the public. The extensive renovations, which were planned and implemented by David Chipperfield Architects, utilized product design brand Dornbracht for the interior fittings. These iconic fittings combined the iconic modern style of the gallery's architecture with Dornbracht's unique design language, which is equally reduced in form.
The original Neue Nationalgalerie building, with its flattened form and steel and glass materials, has long been considered an icon of modern architecture. The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) created the gallery in Berlin at the end of the 1960s as a museum for 20th-century art. Alongside Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe was one of the founders of modern architecture, whose style was dedicated to the expression of constructive logic and spatial freedom in classical form. To this end, he developed modern supporting structures made of steel, which enabled a high degree of variability in the usable spaces and large-scale glazing of the façades. He also became famous as a proponent of minimalism in architecture, expressed by the formula “less is more."
Mies van der Rohe was commissioned to design the gallery in 1961, and construction was completed in 1969. Since then, it has been used, admired, polemicized, and misinterpreted, though never met with indifference. Each generation of occupants added details to the original design, which had been left unnoticed until a structural survey was carried out to prepare for necessary refurbishment. In 2012, David Chipperfield Architects began to work on these renovations, prioritizing Mies van der Rohe's original designs and stripping back many of the additions implemented later.
This refurbishment project took more than five years. In its challenging detail work, and with its aim of preserving as much of the historic building fabric as possible, the team of architects succeeded in protecting and preserving the landmark in maximum detail without damaging its visual integrity. The pedestal with flagstones, glass façade, steel construction, lower floor, and sculpture garden were all revised exactly and then carefully refurbished or renewed. As a result of the architects' work, smaller details from the original design also became more visible, including door handles, washstands with specially adapted armatures, furniture veneered in brown oak, and bouclé carpeted floor, which had to be treated accordingly by the renovators.
"As a long-standing partner for architecture, design, and art, direct exchange is a matter of course for us and of great importance. Collaborations have always given us important impulses for product development. Our claim 'Leading Designs for Architecture' expresses this bond," says Stefan Gesing, CEO of Dornbracht, summarizing their partnership with David Chipperfield Architects.
On April 29, 2021, the reopening of the Neue Nationalgalerie will be celebrated with a symbolic handover of the keys. The first exhibition, with works by the US artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976), is planned for August 2021. The total cost of the renovation measures was around 140 million euros.
The magazine „Bauwelt-Einblick“ is published with the support of Dornbracht as a special edition featuring all relevant details about the Neue Nationalgalerie in an E-Paper. Head over to their blog to find more!