The New Vienna Museum project is situated in the field of tension between the homogeneous historicist structure of the Ringstrasse and the diverse, structurally and stylistically heterogeneous zone of the city’s former glacis, an urban field with multiple gravitational fields of varying attraction that act on the construction site. In order to assert itself in this environment, the project positions itself as part of the whole fabric, primarily guided by a very specific contextualization; not only in terms of its urban positioning, but also by inhaling the cultural context.
In terms of urban planning, the project refers to the concept of creating several squares in order to give Karlsplatz a new rhythm. A rhythm that it did not have until now due to its asymmetrical formulation. The architectural prototype of the symmetrical square is deliberately used to create a hexagonal field formed by the Karlskirche, the TU and the Wienmuseum. The edges of the TU serve as a pattern and mirror image for the ground plan figure of the museum. The eastern edge of the new structure approximates the street line of Canovagasse. Between the Haerdtl building and the new structure, a second symmetrical square opens up in a diamond shape towards Karlskirsche. On the one hand, this distance serves the purpose of freeing up the Haerdtl building, and on the other hand, this opening allows the visual axis of Canovagasse to be preserved. The atmospheric quality of these two squares is determined by contrasts: if the square facing the Karlskirche is characterized by a generous, open gesture, the square between the buildings is characterized by intimacy. Both contain an outdoor café, on the one hand for the café in the new building, and on the other hand for the espresso bar on the ground floor of the Haerdtl building.
The new building is framed by a plaza design that frames the building and emphasizes its position on the square. This design also serves as a link between the Otto Wagner Pavilions and the museum to which they are subordinate. The figuration of the flooring serves as an entrance to the museum, its fine fan-shaped elements create a continuous transition from the square to the building. Especially in the square between the new building and the Haerdtl building, the rhythm created by the pattern serves to structure the square, as well as to create several pieces of street furniture: benches, pedestals for sculptures, etc. The figuration of the flooring serves as an entrance to the museum, its fine fan-shaped elements create a continuous transition from the square to the building.
The fine resolution of the building is created by animated lines that unfold in two ways. On the one hand, the animation of the lines creates simple surfaces, on the other hand, the lines rotate in space to create hyperbolic surfaces. In the tension between these two states, orthogonal spaces are created just like the baroque articulated fixed staircase. The building has virtually internalized the Baroque and synthesizes it in terms of 21st-century architecture.
The main entrance to the museum is at the southeast corner. From here the foyer splits radially into the exit to the collection, the cafe with the front to the Karlskirche, the children’s museum, store and the event and lecture room. The circulation through the museum begins in the basement, where the space between the two buildings serves as a connecting link. This space is generously lit naturally from above. At the end of this space, one enters the covered atrium of the old building. As originally intended by Haerdtl, the Thunder Fountain is located here. A spiral staircase encloses the Thunder Fountain and allows one to view this Baroque masterpiece from different perspectives. As one proceeds, one passes through the permanent collection. On the second floor, Haerdtl’s original idea was taken up to create a complete circulation around the inner courtyard, in which the old director’s room is now also integrated as an exhibition object. A glass bridge connects the permanent collection with the temporary exhibition in the new building. Here, too, great importance was attached to a clean circulation that creates a variety of exhibition possibilities. On the same level, at the northern edge, there is the Vienna Room and the spacious terrace, which allows a view into the first district.
Finally, one descends again the fixed staircase to the ground floor, passing the store and the cafe, towards the exit.
The second floor of the Haerdtl building contains the office space, combined on one floor to shorten distances and simplify communication. A second floor on the glass bridge contains an elegant meeting room with a spectacular view towards Karslkirche and the city center. From the administrative level, both permanent exhibition spaces and temporary exhibitions can be quickly accessed. The supply to the building is from the north side of the new building. Further use of the existing delivery system did not appear to be particularly efficient, as the access roads and elevators in the old building make it difficult to handle large exhibits. A large freight elevator serves the back-of-house area in the basement, which is efficiently located on a U-shaped line. From here, all showrooms can be quickly served.
In summary: The ambition of the project is to assert itself in terms of urban space at Karlsplatz, to create a clear spatial figuration without being submissive. The building internalizes the baroque presence of the Karlskirche without competing with it. A dialogue between the Haerdtl building from the 50s with a design of the 21st century.