FRANKFURT – It was in early 2008 that Frankfurt-based Schneider+Schumacher Architekten won an international competition for the design of an extension for Frankfurt’s Städel Museum.

Four years later (this past February, to be exact) the firm celebrated the opening of its latest built project. The extension added another 3000-sq-m to a museum that had asked for a special building – a subterranean structure – in which to display contemporary art. At its centre the ceiling reaches 8m, and its supported by only 12 columns.

‘[The space] offers a high degree of flexibility, making an entirely new spatial structure possible for every new presentation,’ says architect Till Schneider of Schneider+Schumacher, who foresees possibilities for an endless range of exhibitions, shows and presentations.

The underground addition literally rises to the surface of the Städel garden, where its 195 skylights, measuring from 1.5 to 2.5 m in diameter, create a smooth pattern on the lawn behind the main building.

The inaugural exhibition design, developed in cooperation with Berlin-based Kuehn Malvezzi Architects, is described by Wilfried Kuehn: ‘With a system of interlocking galleries, it offers a flexible route through the contemporary art holdings, contrasting with the axial structure of presentations in the main wing.’

Photos courtesy of Norbert Miguletz

*Sneak peek! This article will be featured in Mark #38, due out on 1 June. Click here to subscribe.*