{Kolumba Museum} Peter Zumthor

how an architect handles the design of restoring and adding in an old building

Dear Diary,
Yesterday I attended the thesis a friend. The issue was the restoration of an old building, which placed a new program functions, while planning some modifications and additions. So I was thinking, based on the reviews that have been undertaken, mainly on redevelopment and addition, which is the best way for an architect to deal with an old building and make changes on it.


My thoughts moved around the way Peter Zumthor handled the design of the Kolumba Museum. Zumthor proves once again his commitment to detail and sophisticated result. In Kolumba he mixed various materials and textures in a way that ultimately, achieves a remarkably minimal design

The building does not reveal many from abroad. The pale gray brick, creates a compact mass simple lines. Externally, the building reflects a massive “introverted” structure, which through the synthesis of the gardens that surround it, becomes part of the city.

The brick used in the facade, constructed by Tegl Petersen in Denmark, especially for Kolumba museum, from where it got its name (Kolumba brick). The installation of the bricks is linearly and compactly, in order to highlight Gothic fragments. In higher elevation, perforations are created in order to provide light to the interior. In perforated installation, large square openings are added at selected points,in the areas of the collections.

Internally, in the area of the Roman and Gothic findings, the only light entering in the double height hall comes from the brick gray perforations. Following the path, the visitor is leaded to a small patio, where he sees the sculpture of Richard Serra «The Missing and the Saved» ( «Die Verschwundenen und Gerettete»), located above a crypt in which were found remains during excavations.

Kolumba Museum _ Ylopoiiseis (5)

This is a matched end to the story of the site and the past, almost like punctuation. Through a narrow staircase, the visitor is led to the upper floor, which houses the collection of the Archdiocese. The exhibition areas are hypotonic in color and scale, with white concrete walls and polished floors. The only disruption caused by the large windows entrapping selected sightings of the city.

The Kolumba Museum is an experiential building, which fully reflects the wording of Zumthor «The new has to motivate us to better see the existing”. Tangled in the city, invites the visitor to get inside through its impressive outer shell. The large scale and low lighting in the room, creating a peaceful, with cathedral effects space, setting the mood for the remaining areas of the exhibition.

Kolumba Museum _ Ylopoiiseis (15)

So, dear diary, in my opinion when you have to manage and make changes and additions on an important old building, you have to make strong additions to distinguish the old from the new. This should be done in a way, to protect the character of existing but also to integrate it in the modern age.


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