Precedents Study Analysis of Museums Worldwide

Introduction

Various architects have designed various historical buildings that are still iconic to date. Some of the greatest buildings to be designed by famous architects include museums. Most of the museums have unique structures and reflect the architect’s creativity through the designs and the materials used. This is a paper Precedents Study Analysis of Museums. The paper will focus on five museums namely Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, Mediatheque Japan, Museum Abteiberg, Judisches Museum and Museu De Serralves. The paper shall analyze the exterior and interior designs of these museums highlighting the material, form and functions of the structural designs, spatial relationships and lighting methods.

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Mediatheque Japan

Overall description of the exterior and the interior of the museum

This museum occupies an area of 21600 square meters. The building houses various facilities such as a library and an exhibition center. There are also media ateliers as well as facilities for audio visual purposes. The media ateliers can be accessed by the public. The building was designed to serve as an example of how a twenty first century public building should look like. The design of this building is described as a combination of both minimalism and formal abundance. The length of sides of this building is 50 meters. The walls are then enveloped by glass. In total, the building has two underground floors and seven other floors1. The floors are of different heights. It is located on Sendai Avenue and is very significant to the neighboring communities. From a distance, the building appears to be suspended on air.

Description of its material

The building also has steel tubes which vary in size. They are meant to insulate the building against natural calamities such as earthquakes. They also act as supporters of the entire building and help in increasing the ventilation of the building. They also help in the regulation of the amount of light entering the building during the day. The building is also made up of steel tubes which give it a unique look.

The building therefore, stands out from the rest which neighbor it. Its features help it to relate to the surrounding environment and blend with the natural environment very well. The material used in the construction of the building helps in giving it an aesthetic appearance. The transparent structures in the building are mainly made up of glass. This helps in creating the idea of openness and also a friendly environment for the visitors who frequent the museum. Combining both steel and glass in the construction of this building brings out the creativity of the architect. The building is also able to serve several purposes at a go because of such combination of its construction material.

Description of its form and functions including spatial relationships

There are changes in the form of the floors as someone moves from one floor to the other. These changes remind one of nature. As one moves through the building, there are flowing spaces that expand to wide areas that are open7. The architect uses these as well as the transparent glass that has been used to envelop the walls to bring out the aspect of an open life form3. The architect also uses the transparent glass to create flexibility as well as what he refers to as ‘equality of perspectives’.

The building has been designed in way that it is able to withstand any pressure that it may be subjected to. The structure also reflects the perspective that various people have concerning life. There are steel tubes which are very important in the existence of the building since they act as support for the building.

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Its lighting (natural and artificial)

The building is designed in a way that enough light penetrates through it. There are various methods that have been used to ensure that there is enough natural and artificial light entering the building. For instance, there are several steel tubes that allow light into the building. The tubes are made up of glass prisms which have a concave shape. These help in radiating light into the inside of the building. Some of the light directed into the inside of the building enters the building through roof top. Natural light mainly gets into the building through radiation of the light by the concave glass prisms.

Museum Abteiberg

Overall description of the exterior and the interior of the museum

This museum occupies 40754 square meters. It is one of the museums that have attracted both praise and criticism from various architects in the past decade. It took ten years for this museum to be constructed. The construction of Museum Abteiberg marked the beginning of the construction of other major museum buildings in Germany. The design of this building has been admired by many people and approved as the preferred type of building in the region. The building is situated on the southern outskirts of the city center. The location is also next to the Romanesque-Gothic minster as well as Baroque provost’s residence.

This makes it a very outstanding building in the town as it attracts everybody’s attention. The building has curved brick walls which give it appear as part of the landscape. This also makes it stand out as a piece of architecture that is unique from the rest. Various materials have been used in the construction of the building. From the city, one can get to the roof plateau through a footbridge. From this museum, one is also able to have a clear view of the various parts of the city. This makes it a preference for many people who would want to visit a museum that is within the city center.

Description of its material

The building has been constructed using a number of materials. The administration tower is the highest point in the building. This part is made up of sandstone that was harvested from the Rhine. The side in front of the garden is open. Mirrored glass that is crystalline in nature has been used to break this side open9. Beside this part is a small hall that has also been constructed using sandstone. This is mainly used for temporary exhibitions. There are also a number of exhibition rooms that are square in shape. Their roofs, which resemble the edge of a saw, have been constructed diagonally.

They are also zinc colored. This is very useful in providing a contrast with the expensive white marble and the shiny stainless steel that has been used in the construction of the entrance. Although this contrast was not intentional from the beginning, it has become a notable design in this building. The building has continued to inspire many architects, who have borrowed a lot from it2.

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Description of its form and functions including spatial relationships

The interior of the museum has been constructed in a very unique manner. The entrance leads one into a cave-like structure that does not have a linear form. From the entrance, there are several spatial overlappings, views and directions. Aspects of the immediate environment are incorporated in the construction of the building. Three floors of this building are linked through a stair way. This gives people visiting the museum easy access to various sections of the museum. Due to the large spaces within the museum, one is also able to move freely and access various points of interest.

Its lighting (natural and artificial)

The building uses both natural and artificial light to illuminate its inside. The lighting system makes it possible for one to explore the inside of the building comfortably. Dome lights are used to illuminate various spaces within the building. There are also other artificial lights that are placed strategically inside the building both for lighting and aesthetic purposes. Natural light enters the inside of the building through various openings such as the windows and the doors. Mirrored glass found on some parts of the building also helps in allowing natural light into the building.

Guggenheim Bilbao Museum

Overall description of the exterior and the interior of the museum

The construction of this museum was meant to be a project that would restore the glory that this metropolis had lost as a result of social unrest as well as decline in the economy. It was also meat to help in preserving the good reputation of Guggenheim Foundation. The building to be constructed was also supposed to measure up to the standard of the Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim Museum based in New York. The museum had to be architecturally up to standard and had to incorporate some contemporary aspects in its construction.

Description of its form and functions including spatial relationships

The porch of this building is the pivotal point. Its height is more than 50 meters high. It is located directly behind the main entrance of the building. The architect drew the expressionist spatial vision inspiration from a movie by Fritz Lang. the building is full of light entering it through the curtained walls. The roof also has been constructed in a manner that allows enough light into the building. This is what the architect Ghery interprets as a classic museum dome. There are numerous exhibition rooms situated inside the museum. These exhibitions can be accessed through various routes such as through the use of the available steel bridges. Suspended catwalks and glass elevators can also be used to access the exhibition rooms, which have been arranged radially12.

Description of its material

There is a long tunnel-shaped hall which the architect fondly refers to as ‘fish’4. The tunnel is 130 meters long. The tunnel is made up of changing contours. This is one of the largest rooms. The ceiling does not have columns. The galleries located on the third floor receive their light from above. This is mainly through an opening found in the middle of the floor. Steel has widely been used in the construction of the exterior and the interior of the building. This makes it to be a very strong structure that can withstand a lot of outside pressure. Like many other buildings built during this period, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum has also made use of glass to create unique designs. Glass has also been used to create a sense of space since it allows a lot of natural light into the building.

Its lighting (natural and artificial)

The artificial light found inside this building is got from various sources. The rooms receive their lighting from a special system of lighting bridges as well as spotlights on the walls. These enable the light to be evenly distributed. The even distribution of artificial light gives the structure an aesthetic look and also easy access into various rooms within the building. The building does not only rely on artificial light for its lighting purposes but also uses the natural light. Most of the natural light enters the building through avenues such as glass walls as well as other openings such as windows.

The interior of the building is therefore well lit and easily accessible by visitors and any other person who may be interested to tour the place. The 50 meter high atrium also helps in increasing the lighting inside the building. This is because it is able to allow light into the building because of its glazed curtain wall. The building has also been designed in such a way that galleries which are arranged on top of one another can receive light from above. This ensures that all areas within the museum are well illuminated by either natural or artificial light. The access of enough natural light into the building as well as the supply of artificial light makes the building accessible from various points.

Judisches Museum

Overall description of the exterior and the interior of the museum

This is termed as the first large building of its kind to be constructed. Initially, the museum was meant to be an extension of the Jewish section of the Berlin Museum. With time, the Jewish community living in Berlin was able to claim the museum for themselves. This happened despite the fact that the museum has a lot of useful information concerning the history of the city5.

The museum has been constructed using Libeskind architecture. This kind pf architecture helps in explaining the interconnection between the history of Berlin and that of the Jewish people living in Berlin. The architect is able to silently pass this message through construction of this building. The building contains a single line that runs through it. This line is viewed as the backbone of the building. However, it is fragmented in various places.

There is also a zigzag line that runs across it several times. These lines are symbolic of the change of course that the German and the Jewish history have taken. The intercrossing of the lines shows that the two are inseparably intertwined with each other. At the edges, there are voids which bring out the idea that the museum is constructed around an empty space. The invisible is used to signify the absence of the Jewish existence in Berlin6.

Its lighting (natural and artificial)

The lighting of the museum is also done metaphorically. It expresses a catastrophe and is also an important part of the Jewish religion. It is connected with hope. The building is connected underground with the Berlin museum. The museum can be easily accessed from the Berlin museum through a stairway that is dimly lit. This too is to be understood metaphorically. It serves as a reminder of the interconnection between the Jewish and the non-Jewish history. It shows that despite the suffering of the Jewish community, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like many other aspects of the building, the architect has used the lighting system metaphorically to bring hope to the Jewish community. Both natural and artificial light has been used to convey the architect’s views.

Description of its material

There have been numerous debates as to what motivated the architect to constructing such a museum11. Some argue that it is his architectural skills while others believe that it was an avenue of communicating his ideas to the outside world. The exterior of the building is made up of zinc sheets. The sheets are pierced by slits as well as other openings. These openings are mainly in form of splinters. One of the most unique things about this building is that it is expressive of experiential space.

Description of its form and functions including spatial relationships

Instead of a clear space, one arrives at a point where there are three routes. The three intersect at different angles. One of the routes, known as Axis of Exile, leads one to the outside of the building. Its destination is the Garden of Exile and Emigration. This can be described as a tilted surface. This too represents an aspect of the holocaust. The longest routes lead to the narrow stairway. This is also the main stairway. Metaphorically, this represents hope for the Jewish community that they will see their future, despite their present calamity. This is also represented by the narrow bands of light which link the three floors of the building. The presence of a circuit, which is characterized by narrowing and darkening as well as broadening and lightening, is also metaphoric. These lead to the exhibition rooms.

Museu De Serralves

Overall description of the exterior and the interior of the museum

This is Portugal’s first public and contemporary art museum. It is situated on the periphery of a large park. The building is approximately 160 meters in height. It is a four storey building with most of the part of the building being hidden by a sloping landscape. It is therefore hard to guess the size of the building from afar off or even from the entrance of the building. One can only know the size of the building by walking around it from the outside8.

The auditorium belonging to the complex is located between two of the walls of this building10. The two walls have windows as the only openings. There is also a courtyard around the museum. The museum is u-shaped and it has two wings, which are asymmetrical in nature.

Description of its material

The quality of this building can be described as one full of tension between regularity and well thought of loss of composure. This is especially in sections such as the visitor routing as well as in the interplay between the inside and the outside. The lighting system has also received this treatment. There is a lengthy trajectory that extends from the portal to the entrance of the museum. It brings in clear view important elements of the building. It starts with a curvature that brings out the concept of space. Inside the building, there is a courtyard enclosed by the walls of the auditorium. The walls have no windows creating the impression of being inhospitable. This is despite the elegant curving of the roofline. A visitor still feels as if they are outside even when they are already inside the building.

Description of its form and functions including spatial relationships

The walls with windows, on the other hand, create a friendly environment. The interplay between the inside and the outside of the building has been well designed to create the impression a conversation between the architect and nature. The interior of the museum is made up of seven big rooms and also several smaller rooms. The rooms have all been constructed differently from one another. This is particularly in terms of the size of the walls and the openings in the ceilings. There are notable differences in the size of the walls as well as the ceiling openings. This is a unique aspect of this building since it is hard to find other buildings with the same design.

Its lighting (natural and artificial)

The lighting system of this building is characterized by regularity and well though discomfiture. There are lighting systems that supply artificial light into the building. The building has also been designed in such a way that natural light is able to easily penetrate through openings such as windows and doors.

Lighting in this building has been done very carefully as it plays a very important role. There are multiple reflections and refractions created through the lighting system. White color is used in spatial boundaries. This creates the impression of the architecture being weightless. The rooms of this building are unique. Unlike the conventional rooms which are divided by walls, these ones seem to develop a life by themselves. They then shift to right angles and at times appear to be in a tilted position.

There are several rooms which appear to have their ceilings turned upside down. Indirect light, which falls on the walls, is present in these rooms. The conventional rooms found in this building are lit from above. The glass ceilings of these rooms are not flat as it is the case with conventional glasses. On the contrary, they have some small swellings on them. The doors of the rooms are arranged in an asymmetrical manner. This feature of the museum is marveled at by many people.

Conclusion

The five museums are all unique and different from one another in different ways. Some of the aspects which make these museums different from one another include of the appearance of their exterior and interior, the material used in the construction, form and function and the lighting, both natural and artificial. Some of the museums, for instance the Judisches Museum, have their various components being used metaphorically. They represent the architect’s ideas and serve to narrate the Jewish history and relate it with the history. The museums are spacious and have several compartments inside them. These are divided by different materials and have been designed uniquely and differently from one another.

Bibliography

Buntrock, D, Japanese architecture as a collaborative process: opportunities in a flexible construction culture, Spon Press, New York, 2001.

Ghery, F, Frank Ghery Talks Architecture and Process, New York, 1999.

Gilbert, D & Richards, B, New Glass Architecture. Laurence King Publishing, London, 2006.

Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, 2012.

Judisches Museum, 2012.

Libeskind, D, Jewish Museum, Berlin, G + B Arts International, Australia, 1999.

Mediatheque, Sendai, Japan, 2012.

Museu De Serralves , 2012.

Museum Abteiberg, 2012.

Naredi-Rainer, P & Hilger, O, Museum Buildings: A Design Manual, Surendra Kumar, India, 2004.

Newhouse, V, Towards the new museum, The Monacelli Press, New York, 1997.

Zulaika, J, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: Museums, Architecture, And City Renewal, University of Nevada Press, Nevada, 2003.

Footnotes

  1. D Buntrock, Japanese architecture as a collaborative process: opportunities in a flexible construction culture, Spon Press, New York, 2001.
  2. F Ghery, Frank Ghery Talks Architecture and Process, New York, 1999.
  3. D Gilbert & B Richards, New Glass Architecture. Laurence King Publishing, London, 2006.
  4. Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, 2012.
  5. Judisches Museum, 2012
  6. D Libeskind, Jewish Museum, Berlin, G + B Arts International, Australia, 1999
  7. Mediatheque, Sendai, Japan, 2012.
  8. Museu De Serralves , 2012.
  9. Museum Abteiberg, 2012.
  10. P Naredi-Rainer & O Hilger, Museum Buildings: A Design Manual, Surendra Kumar, India, 2004.
  11. V Newhouse, Towards the new museum, The Monacelli Press, New York, 1997.
  12. J Zulaika, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa: Museums, Architecture, And City Renewal, University of Nevada Press, Nevada, 2003.
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