Founded in 1985, London-based David Chipperfield Architects is recognized for the ability to design buildings that quietly but forcefully create place with their sculptural form. Chipperfield’s Current Work lecture, titled “Two cities, two projects,” focuses on two recent museum projects: the James Simon Galerie at Berlin’s Neues Museum and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. With both, Chipperfield sought to “find appropriate relationship with their place, both physically and socially” in two disparate contexts.
The firm won a 2007 competition to rebuild the historic Neues Museum, bombed twice during World War II and left as a ruin. The design responds to weighty contextual relationships, both to the adjacent institutions on Berlin’s Museum Island and to a city “in a continuous process of reconstruction and reconsideration” following reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Chipperfield creates a sympathetic but not mimetic relationship between old and new through a process of “restoring, repairing, and adding to” with the remains of the bombed building.
The Museo Jumex sits hemmed in on a triangular site and navigates a vastly different context, that of a “developing place with no apparent city plan.” A powerful form that is “self-consciously asserting itself,” the travertine-clad building rests on a raised plinth and is topped with a saw-toothed roof. The interior offers flexible, minimally defined spaces for a variety of exhibitions and programs. Together, the projects illustrate the firm’s commitment to design typologies that are “architecturally, socially and intellectually coherent.”
The Current Work series invites significant international figures who powerfully influence contemporary architectural practice and shape the future of the built environment to present their work and ideas to a public audience.