Kunsthalle Mannheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

August 14, 2018

A project two and a half years in the making, the Kunsthalle Mannheim museum of modern and contemporary art represents an example of civic commitment and architectural skill.

Designing and constructing the museum brought about a unique challenge – creating aesthetically modern space while honoring the city of Mannheim’s historic layout. Dubbed the “city within a city,” the project by Gerkan Marg and Partners reinterprets classic museum architecture while paying homage to infrastructure.

A Tribute To The City Of Mannheim

The museum is comprised of 13 cubes of varying heights and widths that are offset from one another. The design serves as a tribute to Mannheim’s chessboard city layout, sometimes referred to as the “city of squares”.

Connection between Mannheim’s urban environment and the artistic museum counterpart was a heightened focus during construction of the museum. Architects aimed to create a dialogue between museum visitors and urban onlookers – merging the inside and outside world. Without this, the building’s link to the city would seem distant.

To achieve this connection, Gerkan Marg and Partners called upon GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG, a leading provider of woven stainless steel mesh fabric for industry and architecture. GKD began creating a woven work of art in the form of a sophisticated bronze stainless steel façade.

“Our goal with this project was to functionally and aesthetically enhance the Mannheim museum, while honoring the city’s historic footprint,” said Tom Powley, President of GKD-USA.

Durability & Functionality With Stainless Steel

The façade, measuring more than 4,600 square feet and consisting of 72 panels, unites the museum with the city of Mannheim. The design consists of two woven stainless steel wires and tubes of two different diameters – 3mm and 25mm – into four stainless steel wire groups. GKD’s sophisticated weaving technique allows the façade to withstand the elements, remaining steadfast during intense wind and snow.

Beyond durability and functionality, the Mannheim project also represented an aesthetic challenge. The façade needed to replicate a precise stipulated color tone chosen by the architects after a lengthy decision process. GKD’s extensive experience in coating metal fabrics proved up to this challenge as the finished fabric reflects the color of the sandstone used in neighboring buildings. This easily implements the museum into the historic city footprint.

A Shining Facade

During daylight hours, the façade reflects sunlight and its surroundings of urban life. In the evening, the exterior illuminates, creating a focal point of an elegant city square.

Kunsthalle Mannheim museum of modern and contemporary art pairs historic homage with aesthetic admiration. With help from GKD metal fabrics, the museum’s exterior helps it truly shine in the in the “city of squares.”

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