The Neue Nationalgalerie (1968) by Mies van der Rohe

13.09.2013 Architecture 2 comments

This building is considered one of the masterpieces of architecture as represent the summary of all assumptions implemented during the first half of the twentieth century and where the famous phrase of the Mies van der Rohe “less is more” takes on true sense.

The building was designed in 1962, beginning construction in 1965, and was not completed until 1968. The building is a consequence of the gift of the city of Berlin for whoever had to stop directing the Bauhaus in 1933, did not die without building a mayor work in the city.

The project has its origins in an earlier design that Mies did for Ron Bacardi offices in Cuba, where it raised a glass facade is removed from the edge of the building covered by an overhanging roof which is supported by 8 concrete peripheral columns, two from each side of the building. The project was never completed, but clearly indicates roads where Mies wanted to investigate.

Furthermore, the Neue Nationalgelerie project for many people, is the clearest Mies tribute to one of his most admired German architects, K. F. Schinkel and specifically one of his masterpieces, which van der Rohe studied extensively upon his arrival in Berlin, and that it poses a major simplicity as focal point of the project.

AltesMuseum 03_nationalgalerie

The importance of this building which originally was intended to host the art collection of Berlin twentieth century, is that it was a new way of thinking and understanding a museum, far from usual canons, away from the closed building composed of many themed rooms, to generate a large open space, glazed, permeable and versatile.

The building, easy to underestnad in a first sight, is a strong radical and has conceptual clarity. The pavilion stands on the esplanade which forms a base or platform. It is located at street level and is totally free, only interrupted by two vertical communication cores and services, and closed by a glass skin. However, a more detailed look can see its great complexity.

The cover formed by a frame of steel beams, square 64.8 m long, supported by eight  cruciform perimeter support, two on each side, with projecting corners, is a clear example of this complexity, a complexity that is not given by odd shapes or sophisticated pieces but, paradoxically, lies in its simplicity. They say that nobody trusted that the roof structure was to hold the mere lifting, so Mies van der Rohe, wanting to instill confidence to those involved in the maneuver, proceeded to lead the movement, from his white convertible Mercedes located just under the cover which had to be lifted.

But rather than tell you about it, better not enjoy it in person?


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  • Gaby

    13.04.2014, 14:38 Uhr

    Sorry you know what is the scale of those plans?

    • Angel Nieto

      08.05.2014, 14:49 Uhr

      Unfortunately not.