Brandhorst Museum by Sauerbruch Hutton



Berlin architects Sauerbruch Hutton have completed the exterior of the new Brandhorst Museum in Munich, Germany.


The building is clad in 36,000 ceramic rods in 23 different colours, arranged vertically over a horizontally striped, sheet-metal skin.


"Between an angled view, in which the ceramic rods merge visually into a solid plane, and the frontal view, in which the mineral layer parts to let the horizontally striated background become visible and dominant, countless visual variations of materiality and structure are possible," say Sauerbruch Hutton.


The museum consists of two volumes, containing exhibition spaces on three floors.


It will be opened officially on 21 May 2009. Here's some more information from Sauerbruch Hutton:


Brandhorst Museum - Sauerbruch Hutton

The Brandhorst Museum is located on Tuerkenstrasse in the Munich district Maxvorstadt. This district, developed in a neo-classical style in the early nineteenth century, during the reigns of Bavarian Kings Maximilian I and Ludwig I, was severely damaged during the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt. The property, with a permissible building footprint of 100m x 34m, forms the north-western corner of the Museum Quarter that includes the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Pinakothek der Moderne, the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, and now, the Brandhorst Museum.


The new building adopts the urban concept of the Pinakothek der Moderne, the second phase of which consists of a 17m high wing to fill in the city block along Gabelsbergerstrasse and Tuerkenstrasse, as the historical Tuerkenkaserne once did. The museum continues this building line along Tuerkenstrasse. The corner at Theresienstrasse is marked by increasing the height of the building. As the building façade is set back eight meters further than the original historical buildings to accommodate a row of trees, the head of the building angles out toward the street intersection to define the space here more firmly. The height of the corner element matches that of the apartment building on the opposite side of the street, designed by Sep Ruf, an icon of post war architecture.


By locating the entrance to the Museum at the intersection of Tuerkenstrasse and Theresienstrasse, a symmetry with the southern entrance of the Pinakothek der Moderne at the corner of Tuerkenstrasse and Gabelsbergerstrasse is created, which opens up a connection between the Museum Quarter and the adjacent neighbourhood of Schwabing.



The parts of the museum that are visible above ground consist of a longitudinal building (l=98m, w=18m, h=17m) and a main entrance building (l=34m, w=17m, h=23m). These volumes are connected by a continuous strip window that divides the building visually into two floors. On the “head” at Theresienstrasse, this band flows into the generous glazing of the main entrance. Here, a smaller area of glazing opens the foyer café toward the north and west; additional individual windows provide composed views into and out of the building.

The ground treatment and landscaping to the west reveals the extent of the building underground (w=27m, l=97m, t=15m). The building has three exhibition levels with average floor heights of 9 meters. To the south, the administration and depots are accommodated on eight stacked floors of 3.90 meters each. In addition to the exhibition areas, foyer, cafe, bookshop, seminar rooms and their ancillary rooms, the building contains rooms for administration and security personnel, a loading bay for art, exhibition workshops, restoration studios and depots. The complex heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are housed primarily in a continuous subterranean technical area (l=98m, w=8m, h=8m) along the eastern side of the building.


The museum’s exhibition spaces are spread over three levels. The galleries differ in size, layout and proportion from floor to floor, as well as in their specific natural and artificial lighting configurations. Located on the top level – with skylights directly above in the roof – there are rooms up to 450m² large with walls that allow artworks up to 9m tall to be hung. These rooms are fitted with continuous translucent fabric ceilings that uniformly distribute daylight, yet subtly convey the changes caused by the play of clouds and the sun’s position at different times. The room situated above the foyer, has been specially designed for Cy Twombly’s famed Lepanto Cycle. The twelve large-format paintings are hung panorama-style on a polygonal wall.

Located on the ground level are more intimate spaces, ranging in size from 55m² to 100m², with hanging heights of 5.50m. They are connected with each other linearly, but offset in such a way that new art works keep coming into view as one passes through them. These spaces are illuminated using a system of reflectors that direct daylight in through toplights in the side walls. The internal ceilings consist of textile-covered louvres that soften and scatter the light, while permitting the space and structure above them to be appreciated. The transverse gallery, approximately 7m high, is lit differently, by a large window at the side.

This provides ideal conditions for sculptures and three-dimensional objects, as well as creating a direct visual contact with the street. The central patio, 460m² large and 7m high, is located underground and lit directly from above. Six small galleries (each 65 m²) for photography and works on paper, opening off it at the sides, are illuminated solely with artificial lighting, which, in conformity with conservation requirements, is strongly reduced.

The media suite (approx. 240m²) for video and electronic art is conceived completely as a ‘black box’. In the patio, the structural elements of the roof and the lighting controls on the ceiling remain visible, giving it a loft-style technical ambience. The ceiling in the media area serves likewise as a technical stage. All of the galleries (with exception of the media suite) are finished with white walls and solid parquet flooring of Danish oak. This provides an unobtrusive backdrop for the works of art, which are predominantly hung on the walls. The use of lighting, colour and materials in the galleries lends them a naturally light atmosphere. Their architecture gives the art plenty of space to breathe. At the same time, they vary the interior in such a multitude ways that, in analogy to an art collection, we could speak of a collection of spaces.

The three exhibition levels are connected by an imposing stair, clad with oak, which invites visitors to explore the various levels. Naturally, there are also two lifts to provide barrier-free access to the entire museum.


The concept for this museum strives not only, as is usual, to illuminate the top fl oor with natural light, but the lower fl oors too. Below ground, this is achieved by offsetting the floor plan, which makes direct illumination from above possible. On the ground floor, a system of refl ectors direct light from the zenith through an asymmetrically arranged strip of windows into the galleries, providing uniform illumination.

In all of the exhibition spaces, bright daylight (up to 100,000 Lux in summer) is fi ltered through light-blades and reduced to gallery strength (approx. 300 Lux). Daylight ceilings of translucent fabric provide uniform distribution of natural light and reduce any strong variations in light levels. Additionally, artificial light sources have been installed above the day-light ceilings which, when needed, can be used to supplement or replace natural daylight. Calculations indicate that pure daylight (depending on the fl oor level) can be used for between 50%-75% of the museum’s normal opening hours. This not only creates
an outstanding quality of light for the art, but also leads to significant savings in the museum’s operating costs.


Stringent requirements for temperature stability, relative humidity and air quality in the exhibition spaces and depots constructed to international standards necessitate a high concentration of technical installations and result in enormous operating expenses. To minimize this expenditure, a completely new strategy has been developed by, and in cooperation with, the mechanical systems planners that permits savings of 50% of thermal energy and 26% of electrical energy, in comparison with similar buildings with conventional systems. As a result, associated CO²- emissions should be reduced by 356 tonnes per year. Expressed in absolute costs, this means yearly savings of 70,000€.

The primary source of heat energy for the building is an up-to-date groundwater heat pump – a solution that is favoured by the high groundwater temperatures in this quarter of Munich. This not only exploits an existing and free energy source, but also helps to restore the thermal equilibrium of the groundwater at this location.

Furthermore, in addition to conventional ambient air systems, the museum is heated and cooled by making active use of structural elements. A system of water pipes laid approx. 10cm below the surface allows all of the floors and most of the walls of the museum to be activated. The system directly heats or cools the walls or floors, which in turn exchange heat with the rooms and thereby create stable climatic conditions for the art on display. Consequently, the volume of air circulated to cool or heat the rooms can be almost halved in comparison to conventional air handling systems. The room temperatures remain signifi cantly more stable, especially in cases when there is a temporary failure of the technical systems.


Whereas the main aim inside the museum is to create ideal display conditions, the exterior is intended to direct attention to its role as a repository of lively art. The polychromatic facade appears similar to a large, abstract painting. The exterior skin is constructed of several layers. In front of the substructure and the thermal installation, there is a horizontally folded bi-coloured sheet-metal skin with fine perforations that absorb the noise of traffic from Tuerkenstrasse and Theresienstrasse. In front of this horizontally emphasized element of the façade are 36,000 separate ceramic rods (4cm x 4cm x 110cm), attached vertically and glazed in 23 different colours. The rods, in three families of differing colour mix and tone (light-medium-dark), have been arranged in three areas in such a way that the building appears to consist of three interlocking individual volumes.

At the scale of the façade as a whole, the layering of horizontal and vertical lines along with the contrast and merging of colours create a general impression of oscillation in the closed exterior walls of the building – almost of dematerialisation – because the visible surface of the building alters as the observer moves. Between an angled view, in which the ceramic rods merge visually into a solid plane, and the frontal view, in which the mineral layer parts to let the horizontally striated background become visible and dominant, countless visual variations of materiality and structure are possible. Seen from afar, the three colour groups coalesce to form a neutral colour with respectively differing brightness and tone. Seen from close to, each of these fields resolve into its individual colours.

Exhibit area: approx. 3,200m²
Gross fl oor area: approx. 12,000m²
Gross building volume: approx. 68,000m³
Total construction costs : EUR 48,150,000
(incl. all ancillary construction costs)
Competition: December 2002
Ground-breaking ceremony: October 2005
Topping-out ceremony: October 2006
Handover to Owner: October 2008
Opening: Spring 2009
Owner: Freistaat Bayern,
Bayerisches Staatsministerium
für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst
Project Manager: Staatliches Bauamt Munich 1
Architects: Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin
Structural Engineers: Ingenieurbüro Fink, Berlin
HVAC/Plumbing Engineers: Ingenieurbüro Ottitsch, Munich
Electrical Engineers: Zibell, Willner und Partner, Munich
Daylight Planners: Arup Lighting, London
Landscaping: Adelheid Gräfi n Schönborn (AGS), Munich
Technical aspects of preventive conservation: Doerner Institute, Munich

Posted on Monday February 16th 2009 at 2:01 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • I enjoy the colorful noise absorbing facade. The many conflicting colors become a visual reference to the cacophony of sounds outside. I would have chosen a more inspired landscaping then just grass to offset those blurred colors. Fantastic work. I hope the interior speaks to the overall design as well, but we won’t know until May…

  • marcos

    paul smith stripes fever!

  • Chris
  • Tom

    Do you know, I don’t think I like this very much? I really like their new Sheffield University building, amazing use of colour, but this looks a bit like, well, sick. Just me?

  • i really love it, just near my uni, so beautiful!

  • Ben

    Stunning! Great fenestration and use of color. And those interiors are pretty amazing, too.

  • Milan

    This is cool.

    And Chris, your links provide a much better understanding of the building than what is posted here on dezeen..

  • Danke Chris,

    Finally an art gallery that relates to human scale! The weight of the rails seems both heavy and light at the same time because of the materials. One of the things that bother me about art galleries is that you are almost never allowed to touch. Having a material finish like the wood on the walls at our level makes a for a nice change. No worries about marking up the white washed walls in a gallery.

    The light quality is also excellent. I love the framed exterior scenes in the gallery spaces. The opposite building facades have a wonder color play like the exterior of the gallery. The windows are also set deep enough to eliminate a lot of glare too, clever.

    My only criticism for the material finishes on the interior is there is not recessed kick space below the rails. I imagine those will get scuffed to some degree. It is mostly an aesthetic thing for me, as I like to see a negative reveal where the rail meets the floor. Especially because the grain of the wood flows with the rail instead of marching across the floor.

    This is another quality project from Berlin, congrats.

  • WMd

    Reminds me of Adjaye

  • Alex

    The Problem with the building is that it completely turns its back to the other museums like Pinakothek der Moderne and therefore does not connect and interact with the museum quarter.

  • LOW

    If you cross your eyes… you can see a dolphin.

  • Jacques Herzog

    oh look, a polychromatic box from sauerbruch and hutton… how original.

  • façade with different colors gives a beautiful efeicto

  • Boppie

    apparantly I’m not a big fan of s&h. I’m not enjoying the colors that much, as apparantly others do. It’s really the trademark of this office, using colors and lot’s of them. I’m not very impressed by the interior foto’s as well.

  • J

    It is good to see someone using colour, it’s about time modernism brightend up.

  • Katsudon

    Awesome! Very smart use of the double material use for the skin. The depth and color interactions are great but i guess that seeing it in real must provide the full experience.

  • lex

    The depth/transparancy created in the facade by placing elements perpendicular on the facade is nice. It will be interesting to see the facade changing if you are moving around the building.
    I don’t like to much colour, but i can understand why other people like it. I would choose alot of different greys instead of the colours.