Zentrum Paul Klee
On June 20th 2005 the Zentrum Paul Klee opened its doors to visitors interested in art and to art lovers from all over the world. At the heart of this new cultural institution is the artist Paul Klee (1879–1940), his life and his work. The Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, where the artist spent a half of his life, is a monument of international renown and a personal tribute to Paul Klee himself. Of the 10,000 or so works that make up Paul Klee’s oeuvre a good 40 per cent, that is to say around 4,000 artworks, the Centre’s collections are considered as the largest collection of a single artist of world renown.
Paul Klee is not to be an art museum in the traditional sense. It is to become the leading centre of competence worldwide for research into and the mediation and presentation of Paul Klee, his life and his work, as well as the way in which his art is received.
For this centre of excellence on all matters relating to Paul Klee a traditional museum is not what Renzo Piano had in mind. Renzo Piano's in-depth involvement with the complex project commission and the terrain on the eastern outskirts of Bern gave him the idea of creating a spacious island of green from which the architecture would emerge in the form of three undulating waves. In its entirety the Landscape Sculpture created as a result becomes a cultural destination.
The three hills of steel and glass are divided up into a programmatic structure characterised by an interdisciplinary approach. Indeed besides generous exhibition space the premises also include a state-of-the-art music and performance venue for the Centre’s own programs and for guest ensembles, a children’s museum, a multifunctional promenade with a multitude of communication installations, and plenary halls and seminar rooms with the very latest infrastructure for staging national and international conventions. The fine arts, music, theatre, dance, literature, art science and art mediation therefore not merely co-exist side by side; they give rise to new forms of expression through a form of artistic cross-pollination – for the sole benefit of the public’s enjoyment.
Lightness and transparency, were given much importance in the project. At the same time the illumination inside the exhibition areas had to be precisely regulated so that the quality and life of the highly light-sensitive works of art are not put at risk.
Restorers recommended a luminous intensity of only 50 to 100 lux (unit of illumination) for the works of Paul Klee. To give some idea of what this means, a sunny day in July produces a luminous intensity of 100,000 lux while a cloudy day in March has a brightness of some 10,000 lux. It takes 400 lux to illuminate an office with electric lighting, and even the Moon’s crescent produces an illumination of 0.2 lux.
Also, precise regulation of the air-conditioning system ensures that the temperature cannot deviate from the recommended guide values by more than one degree centigrade either way. The recommended guide values in summer and winter are 23 and 21 degrees respectively. The maximum permissible deviation from the optimum atmospheric humidity of 50 per cent is 5 per cent, and carbon filters are also used to keep the air clean. In all the areas open to the public the Zentrum Paul Klee will be fully air conditioned using a whisper-quiet installation.
A whole range of measures have been taken to keep energy consumption as low as possible. Excellent insulation of the roof, ceilings and floors reduces to a minimum any heat loss in winter and any warming in summer. As waste heat is recycled to heat the supply air, there is hardly any loss of thermal energy. Large shading elements along the main glass façade avert any unwanted direct sunlight. Efficient double-glazing and high-efficiency systems for electric lighting, heating and ventilation also contribute towards moderate energy consumption.
Solar collectors, wind-driven generators and photovoltaic systems were all examined among others as potential suppliers of energy in the search for the most economical and ecological source of energy. As it was impossible to find any indicative reference projects for the Zentrum Paul Klee using these rather unusual solutions, the decision made on the basis of the cantonal regulations was for natural gas.