RAVENSBURG, Germany — The vaulted shell-like roof and the rough-hewn brick walls of the Kunstmuseum Ravensburg look modern, but there’s something familiar about them that’s difficult to place.
The architects were hired to build a museum for the art collection of Gudrun Selinka, who along with her late husband was fond of Expressionist art. There was no art museum in Ravensburg, according to Architectural Review, and so Selinka almost loaned the art to a different museum in Stuttgart. This prompted the city to raise more than $7.8 million to build a museum. Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei architects from Stuttgart were awarded the contract and completed the building in 2014. Today the museum hosts the collection, as well as touring shows of international modern and contemporary art.
As if a government investing in culture wasn’t a big enough surprise, the museum has another trick up its sleeve. The architects mentioned walking a thin line between modernity that clashes with the rest of a city that grew over centuries, or overly sentimental historicity. They pulled off this balancing act by utilizing bricks from the ruin of a 14th century monastery. From the studio:
Upon the very first glance, the new museum appears familiar. The building’s integration into the urban fabric and the materiality of its recycled brickwork are the sources of this ambiguity, which responds to the special qualities of this central location. The simple spatial concept – an entrance court to rectangular and neutral exhibition spaces that are flanked by circulation elements in the middle – is enclosed with an outer shell of recycled bricks. The roof is built as a vaulted structure of brick shells that span the entire width of the space.
The bricks were recovered from a demolished monastery near the Belgian border and through their reuse, point to the central role of sustainability in construction. Why should new materials be produced when we can recycle old ones that have proven themselves over centuries? Old and yet new – even in terms of sustainability, the contrast is clear.
Lederer + Ragnarsdóttir + Oei was founded in 1979. Out of a staff of 45 people, the studio works within small teams to create a sense of “intensity and identification” with their projects.
Among the competitions the studio won in recent years are the Historical Museum in Frankfurt a.M., the Office and Business House Kaiserkarree in Karlsruhe and the Municipal Museum in Stuttgart. Also the Educational Centre in Lörrach, the Cloister Hegne Marianum in Allensbach, the Art Museum in Ravensburg, the Diocesan Curia and archive in Rottenburg and the Hospitalhof in Stuttgart were all important projects for the firm. They were acquired through competitions.
Do you love or loathe this use of contemporary brick architecture? Let us know in the comments.