The new museum at the Weinberg in Kassel has been designed to present the Brothers Grimm‘s works. It translates the historical and topographical features of the surrounding park into a continuous open space and invites visitors to explore the exhibitions at their own pace.
The Brothers Grimm Museum, GRIMMWELT Kassel, is located in a picturesque park on the slope of an area called Weinberg close to Kassel city centre where it blends into the gently undulating landscape. Old stone steps, wall fragments, pergolas, planted terraces and lush vegetation contribute towards the special atmosphere of the park. The new museum continues the topography of the surroundings in an accessible roof landscape and thus provides the park with an open stairway that leads up to a terrace with a view across Kassel.
The building protrudes from the slope like a further rampart and literally invites visitors to explore and clamber the broad and slightly tapered stairway embedded in the southern facade that leads up to an accessible area ten metres above the ground measuring 2000 square metres and designed as a rising terraced landscape. The exterior walls are drawn up beyond the roof level as parapets and stepped to match the level of the roof landscape. A variety of events can take place on the spacious terrace – even outside opening hours – in order to make up for the valuable space lost to public use by the museum.
The reinforced concrete structure has an outer leaf of light coloured natural stone, Gauinger Travertin, roughly split with courses of varied height. The choice of material is reminiscent of the former so-called Henschel Haus, which was destroyed by an air raid in 1945 and was situated where the new museum now stands. Furthermore, the choice of material reflects properties of the local limestone found under the existing hill, once a vineyard.
This design leads to a split-level arrangement in the interior. The tiered space is arranged around a central introductory hall presenting the various key subjects of the exhibition in a fascinating dialogue. The introductory room is to the left of the foyer and functions as a distributor. It allows views into all four publicly accessible areas of the museum, thus connecting the different contents within the 1600-square-metre exhibition space. The museum concept is organised according to individual letters and terms taken from the Brothers Grimm’s German Dictionary.
The café, which is also used outside museum opening hours, is attached to the introductory room. The sloped ceiling traces the outdoor stairway on the southern side of the building; the flow of space is emphasised by the uniform sheathing of the walls and ceilings in the foyer. Oak panelling has been used as a reference to the frequently repeated theme of the forest in the Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
The foyer with a reception desk, a shop and waiting area is a long space stretching the full depth of the building. It ends in a light café with a panorama of Kassel’s Karlsaue and the southern part of the city.
The ups and downs of paths through the terraced park, the stairways and alternating levels are continued inside – in a sense, it is a building designed to persist with its environment and not only in it. It is a museum that does not only want to present contents, but mediate their existence in a playful way, adopting the visitors as participants and providing them with an aesthetic and multifaceted framework for the experience.
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