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

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

An international and multi-tasking office of the calibre of Swiss architecture team Herzog and de Meuron 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, 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.

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