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FIRST LOOK

Matheson Whiteley redevelops artists’ studios in Stuttgart

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The 180m² ground floor of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, a former factory converted to artists’ workshops and exhibition spaces, has been reconfigured and includes custom furniture designed by Simon Jones Studio

A former luggage factory in Stuttgart – and artists’ studios since 1978 – the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, has been redeveloped to provide a new entrance and public space for the gallery.  

Archival research showed that the ground floor space originally contained a bar, providing a link between the local artistic community, activities within the studios, exhibition space and workshops. Over the past 40 years this configuration was lost.

Matheson Whiteley with Simon Jones Studio were commissioned to design a series of proposals to improve the layout of the Künstlerhaus to support its artist-run programme and restore circulation between various spaces.

A key move was re-establishing the building’s main entrance along Reuchlinstraße by restoring an original entrance through the central bay of the main façade and enhancing the building’s visibility from the street. New timber steps have been added to accommodate a level change between the pavement and the building’s interior. A doorway to the main staircase has been re-opened to provide direct access to upper-level workshops, studios and galleries.

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Additional support spaces including kitchen, public WCs and storage have been consolidated.

The redeveloped ground floor has been reimagined as a single, flexible public room, capable of supporting a wide range of activities. The room provides a single point of access and can be used as a meeting place for the local community, as a co-working space, adaptable as a venue for events and perfomances.

Interally, existing brick surfaces that were previously covered have been revealed and retained, with new walls built in a matching brick. Walls and ceilings elsewhere are finished in a warm grey tone while a new oak floor unifies the room and contrasts with parquet block flooring found on the upper floors.

A new bar counter has been made out of both painted and unpainted brick and placed in a welcoming position. 

Simon Jones Studio has designed a range of furniture pieces out of ash, oak and coloured fabrics, all developed around a common folded metal bracket. In the case of both table, chair, sofa and bench, the bracket acts as a corner brace, resonant of the structural form of the existing columns and beams. The lightweight furniture has been produced by members of the Künstlerhaus community in their own workshops.

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Chairs by Simon Jones Studio

Architect’s view

Since its formation in 1978, the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart has been a space for artistic production and exchange. To coincide with its 40th anniversary, architects Matheson Whiteley and furniture designer Simon Jones Studio were commissioned by the City of Stuttgart to redevelop the ground floor of the existing building to form a new entrance and public space. 

Archival research revealed that the ground floor space had originally contained a bar which was central to the social activities of the Künstlerhaus, supporting its artist-run programme of meeting and exchange. As originally conceived, the bar provided a vital link between the local artistic community and creative activities within the studios, exhibition spaces and workshops. However, over subsequent years the clarity of the original configuration was lost and the relationship between the various parts of the Künstlerhaus interrupted. 

Particular attention was given to re-establishing the structural clarity of the existing building at ground floor level, reflecting the qualities of the exhibition spaces on the upper levels of the building. Existing brick surfaces revealed during construction were retained where possible. New enclosing walls are built in a similarly proportioned common brick. A textured ceiling finish improves room acoustics and conceals cabling to ceiling and wall lights. Fresh air is delivered from walls allowing the ceiling to be free of mechanical equipment. 

Donald Matheson, director, Matheson Whiteley

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Proposed ground floor plan

Project data 

Start on site October 2019
Completion date May 2019
Gross internal floor area 180m²
Form of contract or procurement route Construction Management
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Matheson Whiteley, Simon Jones Studio
Local architect Härtner Ito Architekten 
Client Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart 
Structural engineer Kurz und Fischer, Gaplatic

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