Städel Museum
Norbert Miguletz

“Magical Carpet of Light” at German Museum

SEFAR as Manufacturers

SEFAR Architecture fabric diffuses natural light softly and gently through unique glass apertures inside a new exhibition area at theStädel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. The museum houses over 2,900 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs, and around 100,000 drawings and graphic reproductions dating from the Middle Ages to the present.

The 279 square-foot underground museum extension allows warm natural light to filter into the 180 by 156 foot exhibition hall through the 195 circular skylights. The exhibition area is illuminated naturally through glass apertures between 5 and 8 feet in diameter. A shade system with solar protection blinds and two membranes of light-diffusing and acoustically-active SEFAR® ArchitecturePVDF fabric in each skylight make it possible to soften and diffuse the direct rays of light. The shell of the ceiling is vaulted in the center by means of twelve dome-shaped inner supports.

The fabric specified for the shade system is SEFAR Architecture’s IA-80-CL fabric – built for light reflection, acoustic operativeness and environmental well-being. “The design team required an element that could soften the feel of the room, both through acoustic dampening and light diffusion,” says Peter Katcha, Director of North American Sales for SEFAR Architecture. “Our fabrics satisfy both of these needs, all while remaining free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”

The IA-80-CL fabric provides 80% light transmission, high light diffusion with minimal color shift, and is sound-absorbing. It is also UV-resistant, dirt repellent, does not allow moisture absorption, and is low in weight per square meter. Ultimately, all of the fabric’s optimized technical specifications, in addition to its look, make it one of the most versatile interior design materials available.

Today, the museum’s contemporary collection is housed in a new exhibition hall that lies beneath the garden where the Städel is situated, with free-formed skylight ”tops“ breaking through the green roof. At night, the walk-on skylights create a magical illuminated carpet.

Since this spectacular museum extension opened to the public in February 2012, visitors have had access to works by major German contemporary artists, including Kiefer, Baselitz, Lüpertz, and Richter.

Members of the project team included architect Schneider+Schumacher, Frankfurt, Germany, engineer B+G Ingenieure/Bollinger and Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany, installer Typico Megaprints GmbH & Co. KG, Lochau, Austria.

Städel Museums

schneider+schumacher as Architects

In Spring 2008, schneider+schumacher won the international competition to extend the Städel Museum in Frankfurt/Main. By placing the new building below the museum's garden, they almost doubled the exhibition area from 4,000 m2 to 7,000 m2. The underground building is 76 m wide, 53 m long and a maximum of 8.20 m high at the centre.

The outer surface of the doubly-curved roof slab is covered by a total of 195 roof lights, varying in diameter from 1.50 m at the outer edge to 2.50 m at the highest point in the centre. These "eyes for art" were specially developed for the Städel extension and are designed to be walked on. Daylight entering the exhibition space below can be controlled; either augmented using the integrated LED lighting system or mitigated by shading elements built into the roof light.

The entire slab is supported on just 12 slim reinforced concrete columns. The extension lies below the water table and is anchored by 160 deep piles to prevent it floating. The new building also incorporates 36 geothermic piles, reaching up to 82 m into the earth. These provide heat (in winter) or cooling (in summer).

The overall concept and technical specification ensure this museum building is sustainable in all respects.

The new extension to Frankfurt's Städel Museum, designed by schneider+schumacher and completed in February 2012, incorporates landscape, light, art, and subtle architecture. The project is the result of an international competition to design the extension of the Museum, that would extend exhibition space from 4,000 m select group of international architects (et al. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Sanaa, UNStudio), schneider+schumacher was declared the winner in 2008. schneider+schumacher's winning design nearly doubled the exhibition area without compromising the openness of the museum— by burying the building beneath the museum's garden. Beneath the gentle hill landscaped upon the museum courtyard, a domed roof— supported by 12 slim reinforced columns— looms over the new exhibition space. 195 circular sky lights (varying in diameters from 1.50 m to 2.50 m) punctuate the concrete slab. These specially developed "eyes for art" highlight the multi-disciplinary nature of the new extension— the apertures may both be walked upon as a collective art object, while illuminating the underground space with a rich sense of daylight that may be controlled by integrated LED lighting and built-in shading elements. schneider+schumacher envisioned a central axis to extend the museum along its historic spatial sequence. The central foyer and all vertical access points were remodeled to allow wheelchair access. Below the water tables, 160 deep piles anchor the structure to prevent it from floating. The new building incorporates 36 geothermic piles that extend up to 82 m into the earth to provide heat for cooler months and cooling for warmer months. The compact underground building form, the geothermic heating and cooling strategies, and the large internal heat storage capacity together create an optimal room climate with minimal energy consumption. The Jury declared: "Frankfurt is given not only a distinctive and unique exhibition space, but a state of the art green building too."

Project Credits
Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ManufacturersZumtobel Lighting Gmbh
ManufacturersBASWA acoustic AG
ManufacturersBenjamin Moore
Product Spec Sheet
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