Bring the Neues: The Walls That Talk

It must sound ridiculous to some, but, in all sincerity I was profoundly moved by the Neues Museum in Berlin.

The Neues Museum is part of a cluster of museums that dominate the so-called Museum Island, a Unesco Heritage site in the heart of Berlin. It has been part of an ambitious and major restoration project creatively driven by David Chippefield alongside conservation architect Julian Harrap (of Hackney).

Our interest was naturally piqued at the mention of Chipperfield as he is one of Hiro’s favourite starchitects. We watched the Sterling Prize on telly and were captivated by the story and vision for the space.

“The idea that form follows function is complete crap.”
David Chipperfield.

The Neues Museum was built on the orders of Fredrich IV of Prussia as an extension to the Altes Museum in 1841. It’s purpose was to house the King’s ever growing collection of ancient artifacts. By 1939 the museum was closed with most of it’s contents taken away for safe keeping. During WWII The Nueues museum was bombed,nearly obliterated and left to ruin. It wasn’t until 1985 that efforts were made to conserve the museum. In October 2009 The Neues museum opened it’s doors and this Curator was very excited!

The museum is a stark and at times brutal contrast of new architecture grasping the old yet somehow remaining sympathetic.

Hiro believes that Chipperfield was not trying to recreate what once was, but instead reinterpret the vision, the experience, and the aspiration.

For me it felt like a place in which the sands of time were in a state of perpetual flux. We shifted from clean lines and modern textures to historic grandeur and back again within every few steps. and in between there are restored colonnades wrought with exposed unhealed bullet scarred columns. 

The funny thing is that we have very little recollection of the actual exhibitions. We strolled through the building in a state of awe at the accomplishment of this place. It is an achievement to create a place that not only houses items of historical interest that chart the course of humanity with virtue, but, it is more of an achievement for that very place to be a living breathing testament to the things it has witnessed. These wall DO have a way of talking.

Hiro has a way of experiencing any where that we may be in terms of light and shadow. The Neus museum, on a sunny day is a playground for light and so a little bit of magic for Hiro.

“Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light” Le Corbusier.

Hiro would like us to mention Kardorff Ingenieuer Licht Planung for their splendid job of lighting the museum.

Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope that you have enjoyed our little tour of this remarkable place.
This is the 1st ever post written and photographed by Hiro and I.