David Chipperfield Architects Berlin opens Kunsthaus Zürich extension

Kunsthaus Zürich extension, designed by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin, opens to the public, making the art museum the largest in Switzerland

Building pictured outside
South façade of the new Kunsthaus Zürich extension, towards Heimplatz © Noshe
(Image credit: press)

The newly extended Kunsthaus Zürich has opened its doors to the public. The extension, designed by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin, makes the art museum the largest in Switzerland.

The bold geometric form of the new building, situated on the northern side of Zurich’s Heimplatz, places an emphasis on urban space, with the creation of new outdoor public areas. Situated opposite the museum’s existing building – originally designed by Karl Moser in 1910 and extended by various architects over the decades – the new addition opens two new spaces to the community: an urban square located south of the building and, to the north, the new Garden of Art, which celebrates nature. These two open areas are linked by the extension’s light-filled entrance hall, with visitors passing freely through it. Meanwhile, an underground passageway connects the new and existing buildings.

Stone staircase at Kunsthaus Zürich extension

The open stairway and simple wayfinding © Noshe

(Image credit: press)

The extension, which has been 12 years in the planning and building, stays faithful to David Chipperfield’s emphasis on purity of form, with a stark grid-like pattern and graphic interiors. Useability is maximised with the division of the space into four key areas, including a display of art dating from the 1960s onwards that unites different genres, including sculpture, painting, photography and new media art in an exploration of the artistic possibilities of the period. Also accommodated is the Emil Bührle Collection, temporary exhibitions, and the Classical Modernism display.

The central entrance hall of the new Kunsthaus Zürich extension becomes a hub for community events, as well as a showcase for art. On the ground floor, a café bar – now home to the largest surviving work by Max Ernst – a museum shop and an events hall serve as an entertaining hub, while the two upper floors, flooded with natural light, house the exhibition spaces.  

‘The project for the extension of Kunsthaus Zürich brings together the fundamental concerns of museum design with the responsibilities created by both the urban context and the relationship with the existing museum,’ says David Chipperfield. ‘From the outset, we have sought to invest the museum with the physical qualities that enhance the experience of the museum visitor while considering the civic nature of the building and the institution. We hope that the quality of the architecture, its spatial, formal and material resolution will guarantee that the extension, like Karl Moser’s original building, becomes an integral part of the physical, social and cultural infrastructure of the city of Zurich.’

Wide empty room

Events hall © Noshe

(Image credit: press)

stone hall and stairs

Central hall, view to the north © Noshe

(Image credit: press)

grey walls art gallery

Exhibition space, second floor © Noshe

(Image credit: press)

interior of bookshop

Museum shop © Noshe

(Image credit: press)




Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.