a closer look at the reinhard ernst museum process by maki and associates

Aedes Architecture Forum Unveils Museum Previews

The exhibition “Doing the Reinhard Ernst Museum” at Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin offers visitors a closer look at the design and construction process of this complex building. Designed by the Japanese architecture firm Maki and Associatesthe museum is scheduled to open in spring 2023 in downtown Wiesbaden and will house Reinhard Ernst’s private collection of abstract art.

‘Making the Museum Reinhard Ernst’ seeks to highlight the progress of the project rather than the finished work. The layout of the exhibition reflects the resulting silhouette of the building which is divided into four quadrants. Thus, organized into four thematic areas – context, form, detail and construction – the exhibition offers visitors a series of sketches, drawings, models, photos and video sequences that reveal the intense work behind the scenes.

“This September, Mr. Maki will be 94 years old. He is fine but of course it is very difficult for him to travel. So I am here in his place. Before I came here, he gave me three pieces of advice. First, he said to me, ‘Michel, you’re going to visit Germany in the spring, you should eat a lot of white asparagus’ — yes, I did! The second piece of advice he said was “it’s really important to pause, anyway, and thank them again for bringing us all together” – so I’d like to do that first. Mr. Maki’s third point was “let the exposition do the talking, and keep your speech and script as short as possible” – so I’m taking that advice as well,” declared Michel Van Ackere on behalf of Maki et Associés during the welcome speech at Aedes.

During the inauguration of the exhibition space, designboom spoke with Michel to learn more about the design process of the museum as well as his journey.read the full interview below.

image © designboom

complete header image © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

a cultural arts space floats in the heart of Wiesbaden

Supported by the Reinhard & Sonja Ernst Foundation, the project will mark the completion of a 13-year planning process and the long friendship between Reinhard Ernst and renowned architect Fumihiko Maki. For this project, Maki and Associates sought to integrate the structure into its historical context while distinguishing it from its neighbors. To achieve this goal, the final composition was seen as a larger block divided into other quadrants arranged around a glazed courtyard.

Outside, the ground floor is covered with generous amounts of glazing, forming an inviting public space. As for the upper levels, four articulated volumes dressed in white stone are perched above the transparent ground in order to meet the requirements of the program. There, the design team strategically positioned north-facing openings in all of the exhibition halls, also letting diagonal views of the surrounding city spill out inside. As Michel mentioned in the interview, the white granite material used respects the rich stone setting of the area; however, its white color and texture stand out against the surrounding beige stone palette structures.

As for the interior, an extensive multi-level circulation network encircles the square. Thus, the exhibition hall is characterized by traced routes. Nevertheless, everyone can draw their own routes as they meander around the multi-level exhibits. This openness and layering of space – bearing Maki’s design identity – connects the museum interiors to the surrounding city.

take a closer look at the construction process of the reinhard ernst museum by maki and associatesimage © designboom

designboom interviews Michel Van Ackere

designboom (DB): Tell us a bit about your background. How did you end up at Maki and Associates in Tokyo?

Michel Van Ackere (MV): I am originally from the United States, where I studied architectural history. To further complement my theoretical knowledge with the technical aspects specific to architecture, I attended a design school in the United States for three and a half years. During the summer holidays, I decided to do an internship as part of an educational program at a company in Japan — it was an amazing experience! Afterwards, I came back to finish my studies and received a travel grant. I used this money to return to Japan to do research as I was fascinated by certain aspects of the traditional architecture and culture there. So I did! After graduating, I did a research fellowship at Kyoto University. When this search was over, I found out that I wanted to stay there, I felt really comfortable in this country. So I started looking for work. I was lucky enough to find some in Tokyo and later the one I’ve been working in for nearly 26 years. That’s how I ended up at Maki and Associates.

take a closer look at the construction process of the reinhard ernst museum by maki and associates

image © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

designboom (DB): Tell us a bit about the museum and its particularities. What sets it apart?

Michel Van Ackere (MV): Each project is completely different. For each project, Mr. Maki examines the particular site, the particular client, the program and the building. In this case, one of the most important aspects was the context of the project. Many buildings in Wiesbaden are made of stone. So for us, one of the first decisions to make was how to work the stone in this context. It would be wrong to give the museum another materiality.

The second key design element that also derives from its context was the location within the city. The structure sits on the edge of downtown; thus, the surroundings are made up of very dense urban connecting blocks. Just behind the museum are individual villas, very typical of the city. It was therefore necessary, to integrate harmoniously with the surrounding masses, to reflect on the scale of these large buildings. Thus, the resulting structure takes the form of a larger block, which can also be perceived as smaller individual blocks – as is repeated in the exhibition hall of Aedes divided into four thematic quadrants.

Due to its massive size, it was rather practical to place the courtyard in the center, allowing plenty of daylight to enter the building. So those factors established the blocky massing that you see in the building, and it lines up with some of the surrounding structures and fits into the context. At the same time, the color of the stone is very different from the rest and makes the museum stand out. It was an aspect that Mr. Ernst liked very much. He wanted to do something that was integrated into the character of the city, but that stood out. This is how we arrived at the white stone.

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