Arresting archive: Herzog and de Meuron share their Kabinett of wonders

The Kabinett, a new project by Herzon de Meuron
The Kabinett, a new project by Herzon de Meuron, will include an archive of the firm's works, as well as a collection of photographs of Peter and Ruth Herzog. copyright Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Kabinett (Foundation)
(Image credit: Photography: Serge Hasenböhler)

An international and multi-tasking office of the calibre of Swiss architecture team Herzog and de Meuron (opens in new tab) no doubt has a wealth of archival material attached to each of their projects - all valuable pieces of information that are often rarely seen outside the architects' main HQ. The office's Kabinett project is about to change this.

The Kabinett is a charitable foundation set up in Basel to make the celebrated architects' estate accessible to the public. Establishing this initiative in their home town - so that their holdings 'may contribute to the cultural substance of our native city', explain the architects - has been a 'lifelong aspiration' for the duo. The pieces will also be available for loan, especially to the local Kunstmuseum. In fact its director, Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, will join Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Partner-in-Charge Esther Zumsteg as board member in this exciting new venture.

Why call it a 'cabinet'? It's simple, as the architects explain. It signifies a space that is 'intimate' and holds something that has been lovingly preserved. Additionally, the archive is installed in the firm's Helsinki Dreispitz building (opens in new tab), which they say, is more of a showroom than a warehouse. The project, which opened in 2014 and includes the archive and apartments, is one of the firm's most recent completions in town and was initiated and developed by them.

Holdings will include drawings, hand-sketches, photographs, films and architectural models, but also texts. A separate department will house the architects' art collection, while the Kabinett will also provide a home to a wide-ranging collection of photographs that belonged to Ruth and Peter Herzog (opens in new tab).

A special section will hold the office's architecture models.

A special section will hold the office's architecture models. copyright Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Kabinett (Foundation)

(Image credit: Photography: Iwan Baan)

The Kabinett will be open to experts and researchers by appointment.

The Kabinett will be open to experts and researchers by appointment. copyright Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Kabinett (Foundation)

(Image credit: Photography: Serge Hasenböhler)

The space will also provide a home to the firm's art collection

The space will also provide a home to the firm's art collection - cdisplayed here is Rémy Zaugg's Vom Tod II. copyright Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Kabinett (Foundation)

(Image credit: Photography: Serge Hasenböhler)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).