Extension Kunstmuseum by Christ & Gantenbein


Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein have been awarded first prize in a competition to design an extension to the Kunstmuseum in Basel.

The design was chosen from 23 international participants including proposals from Zaha Hadid Architects, Jean Nouvel and Tadao Ando, among others.

Diener & Diener Architekten, also from Switzerland, were awarded second place and Japanese architects SANAA third place.

An exhibition of all the competition entries is currently on show until 20 December at Maiengasse 7/11, Basel, Switzerland.

Here's more info from Christ & Gantenbein:


The winners for the architecture competition Extension Kunstmuseum in Basel have been announced. The project of the Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein was awarded 1st prize.

Among the 23 participated teams were five Pritzker laureates as Peter Zumthor, Zaha Hadid, Rafael Moneo, Tadao Ando and Jean Nouvel.

Click for larger image.

The awarded teams are:
1st prize:
Christ & Gantenbein, CH

2nd prize:
Diener & Diener Architekten, CH

3rd prize:
SANAA K. Sejima R. Nishizawa, J

Click for larger image.

4th prize:
ARGE HHF Architekten, CH + Ai Weiwei, China

5th prize:
jessenvollenweider, CH with Kuehn Malvezzi, D

honorable mention:
Made IN, CH

The exhibition showing all competition entries runs until Sunday December 20th, 2009; Maiengasse 7/11, CH–Basel.

Initial Position and Objective
The Basel Kunstmuseum or Museum of Fine Arts is considered one of the leading art museums of the world. It is a museum with a rich tradition and a top-quality art collection that has continued to develop since the 17th century, is innovative and was and is at the very front of contemporary art production. Thus, a unique thread of suspense emerged that spans art from the 15th to the 21st centuries.

The museum built on St. Alban-Graben in 1936 is the main building and was continually renovated and remodelled from the 1990s till 2007. In 1980, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst or Museum of Contemporary Art on St. Alban-Rheinweg was established as a branch entirely dedicated to contemporary art and renovated in 2005. Since 2004, the Laurenz Building directly adjacent to the museum houses the library, administrative offices, and the University of Basel Department of Art History.

Historically, the Basel Kunsthalle or Art Hall was the venue for changing exhibitions and the Kunstmuseum – apart from some periodical exceptions – the venue of the main collection. Today, however, solely an attractive exhibition programme and venue guarantee a museum remains popular with the public and survives among the leading art museums on an international scale. Ever since 2002, two large special shows are being organized each year, complemented by 8-10 smaller exhibitions held in the main building, above all at the Kupferstichkabinett, the Department of Prints and Drawings, and at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. As, originally, there was no intention to hold large exhibitions at the Kunstmuseum, there is currently no respective infrastructure. Time and again, entire collections have to be repositioned or stored, causing a  permanently provisional state of affairs. Besides, not all of the more recent forms of art can easily be exhibited in the otherwise ideal Beaux Arts halls of the museum. Apart from the temporary use of the halls of the collection for special shows, space for the continually growing collection has become increasingly scarce.

The targeted vision is to enhance the Kunstmuseum into a venue radiating tradition while remaining a dynamic and open institution of international renown with strong local roots, too. Not only the collection but also the travelling exhibits and special shows of the museum are consistently on a world-class level that is to be consolidated and expanded, in particular to address a younger public. Because of a generous gift to the Canton of Basel-Stadt, there is now a unique opportunity to realize the requisite spatial expansion with a new building on the adjacent lot of the Burghof property.

Dr. Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, Direktor Kunstmuseum Basel

Posted on Thursday December 17th 2009 at 1:41 pm by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Nice job on the building-fading-in-the-sky effect.
    Good thing the sky is always grey in Basel, right ?

  • anthonyH2O

    I love the simplicity and the sophistication thta is subdued and not attempting to “take over” the intersection. A simple hello to the past from the future.
    Keep the railing off the stairs please.

    Can’t wait to see it in person.

  • zetre

    Beautiful facade concept!

  • I like the misty light quality these renderings suggest.
    Hope it can be realized.

  • Is anyone familiar with the work of this firm?

    It appears that this is their first major commission looking at their website.

    The renderings are beautiful, by I like others hope that the realized project lives up to the vision.

  • luca

    I can’t see these renderings. the kooning’ s paintings black and white????

  • Raul

    I would like to see the entries of Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel though.

  • andy

    only if they can control the weather. which, you know, maybe. it IS Switzerland after all.

  • Konga

    The building is fine.
    But, I’ve YET to see an architect who knows the first thing about typography…
    and how to place it on a structure.

  • Richie

    It looks like it’s supposed to be some kind of scrolling electronic sign? As opposed to fixed lettering.. The haziness of the renderings is a fudge and one that architects over-use but it’s difficult to make computer renderings look less clinical and hard-edged.

  • basel

    the project by the big names involved were really dissapointing… oma and nouvel made some boring volumes and spaces… zaha proposed a blob with no spatial qualities (why not go back to the qualities of the roma project??)… zumthor is interesting (but not functional enough again)… you can find the projects on the website of the city of basel!

  • andr.

    Jury report with all entries here:


  • Matt

    It could be a media mesh which means the type could be slowly scrolling horizonatally

  • i love the simplicity of the interior. its very appropriate and functional. its amazing how the outside completely speaks the same language on the inside. says ;FUNCTIONALITY’

  • Cpt. Poon

    How come Made In’s proposal came in second, above Diener & Diener, but still didn’t go through to the second round? And how come the project was bought in for more money than the D & D project? Is there a difference between second prize & second place??? Strange….

  • karlkoch

    Cpt. Poon,
    yes there is a difference:
    The MADE IN proposal was preliminarily disqualified due to breach of rule regarding the project perimeter (they proposed to build half of the new program underneath the existing museum).
    The preliminary examination disqualifies from being awarded a price but not from aquisition (and ranking). So this is what happend.
    Its a bit confusing but it provides the possibility of awarding innovative ideas and a the same time appreciating the set of rules for the competition and those who respected them.
    I guess the MADE IN proposal is just far to radical for this environment.

  • al

    I’m so tired of these spaces, seen it way too many times..the standard issue swiss ‘minimalist’ form,skin, the scale,the supergraphics on the facade etc..

  • travis

    How is it that with as many museum projects as there’s been not a single one has attempted to question the gallery space. Seriously. It’s the same space every time: tall ceilings, white walls, minimal furniture (Do not loiter in front of the paintings, just keep moving), connected together in a string that is like a theme park ride, ending up in the same retail shop? Can’t architects challenge the brief? Are curators so special?
    I could care less about what the building looks like on the street (or in the renderings). Let’s try and give art a different space than the same one we’ve been giving since the 1850s.

  • Cpt. Poon

    Excellent, karlkoch!

  • I notice two composition ideas of this project: The binary type of configuration, two solid cores of services that organize spaces to its around it, in the sense of complementary pairs; and, the gradation of texture and color of the front in a meaning of sublimation, aspiration.

  • http://www.hochbauamt.bs.ch/schlussbericht-2.pdf

    really good design. what I can infer from the small images and drawings on the pdf, the museums couldn't go wrong with most of these designs- the best in the field were competing for this commission