The £690m, 10-year project to redevelop the five classical buildings that house the city’s archeological collections is set be Berlin’s largest regeneration scheme after the commercial Potzdamerplatz.
The existing buildings are suffering from neglect as they are on an island in the River Spree, which, until German reunification in 1990, was in East Berlin. Several are not open to the public.
In 1994, Chipperfield won an international competition to refurbish and update the Neues Museum. Then, in 1998, the architect was asked to draw up a masterplan for the island showing how the five museums could be linked and refurbished. The masterplan was carried out in consultation with architects appointed to redevelop two of the museums, Heinz Tesar and Hilmer & Sattler.
Chipperfield’s scheme has a walkway that links the five museums at basement level. Masterplan architect Mark Randel said: “We wanted to keep the solitary character of the individual buildings, so we refused to create any above-ground links.” Chipperfield proposes to build an entrance pavilion for the complex and to convert the courtyard of the Pergamon Museum to a sculpture gallery. It is also revising its design for the Neues Museum, which is due to be completed before 2008.