No. 170 . 05 November 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Piano's Beyeler Foundation Museum

by Dean Hawkes and Wayne Forster

Modern-art collector Ernst Beyeler wanted a tranquil, naturally lit environment for his paintings, despite conventional wisdom that would exclude all sunlight from most art collections. He had been impressed by the building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano for the Menil Collection — a nonmonumental space open to contact with nature, facilitating a direct and relaxed relationship between visitor and artifact.

Beyeler invited Piano and his design team to create a daylit gallery with a protective lightweight canopy that would modulate the effects of the sky and sun. Piano and engineers from Arup completed the building in 1997, in Riehen, an affluent suburb of Basel, Switzerland.

The museum is a 395-foot- (120-meter-) long pavilion running north/south, with a park to the west and the 18th-century Villa Berower to the south. The building offers a calm haven in which to study art and enjoy views of the countryside.

Form and Construction

The form of the gallery is dominated by long parallel walls, which are expressed externally but disintegrate internally. The 25-foot- (7.5 meter-) wide space between the walls accommodates the galleries. On the southern edge of the building, the ends of the walls are expressed below a great over-sailing roof as they run beyond glazed openings to the galleries.   >>>

 
This article is excerpted from Energy Efficient Buildings: Architecture, Engineering, and Environment by Dean Hawkes and Wayne Forster, with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company.

 

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