Varying degrees of transparency lend the textile skin a sense of scale
The new building for the Kunsthalle Mannheim museum of art opened in December. Its sophisticated stainless-steel mesh façade from GKD (Gebr Kufferath AG) is both technically challenging and aesthetically unique.
GMP Architects (von Gerkan, Marg, and Partners) in Hamburg selected a metal fabric façade for the largest newly constructed museum in Germany. This lends a true sense of scale to the gigantic dimensions of the monolithic building through varying degrees of transparency. GKD developed a fabric design especially for this building, with quadruple groups of warp wires made of untreated stainless steel, coloured weft wires made of 3mm-thick wire, and 25mm-thick tubing. A tube is interwoven every eight thin wires here, whereby the key was to use special weaving techniques to compensate for the various tensions in the fabric caused by the differences in thickness.
Gkd spectacular metal fabric façade for museum of art
Source: © Kunsthalle Mannheim/ Rainer Diehl
An additional challenge was to guarantee the specified colour tone of the fabric homogeneously across the entire surface, despite the use of a different coating process for the tubes and the wires. A total of 72 panels made of this unique fabric, each approximately 20m long and 3.26m wide, are what give the art museum its unmistakable face. The 4,600m², translucent façade gives the GMP concept for the art museum a uniform shape – whereby 13 cubes of different heights and widths are offset from one another to transform the museum into a city in the city.
It grants visitors inside the museum an unobstructed view of the city and its landmark: the water tower. The textile skin offers passers-by inviting views into the museum inside. With a discreet shine, the warm brown tone of the fabric emphasises the colour of the sandstone used in the surrounding buildings. During daylight hours, the metal mesh diffusely reflects the sunlight and urban life of the city. In the evening, a subtle illumination concept then transforms the museum into a light sculpture.