The Swiss National Museum was thoroughly renovated and extended by Christ & Gantenbein, who won the international com- petition in 2002. The first phase of the old building's restoration and modernisation was completed in 2009.
Since its opening in 1898, the Swiss National Museum has neither been substantially renovated nor enlarged. In March 1994, the mu- seum was partially closed due to serious safety problems of the load bearing structure. Even after an emergency renovation, parts of the building remained inaccessible. Since the foundation of the museum a hundred years ago, the extension of the museum has been claimed and planned almost every decade, but never realized. Finally, in 2002, an international competition was initiated for the renovation and extension of the museum, which lead to the awarded project of Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein.
In August 2009 the first phase of the renovation was completed and the museum thus re-opened to the public with a permanent exhibi- tion. The extensive renovation work covered the statics, the increase of earthquake protection, the installation of fire preventions, the re- newal of technical installations as well as the improvement of the outer shell concerning energy efficiency. Some of the interior spaces of the building had been massively transformed throughout the dec- ades and are now being re-fashioned back into their original state. The aim was to add something fresh without overdoing the contrast between the old and the new. Elements in handcrafted style now enhance the interior, some of which were created with the help of computer-aided design (CAD) techniques. They act as a «creative reconstruction».
For two years, until 2007, reconstruction measures have been accomplished in the basement floor: the ceilings of the ground floor were bolstered up with an arched ceiling concreted from below. This increased the load and the earthquake protection at the same time and fulfilled the conditions of fire protection. An energy conduit subway now supplies water, electricity and heating for the whole building. The most extensive intervention was the replacement of the arched slab between the ground floor and the hall of fame («Ruhmeshalle»). The porous, non armoured slag concrete ceiling has been pulled down carefully. The abrasion had to be observed to avoid damages at the original frescos in the hall. The old ceiling design was then transferred to a new concrete floor which matches the original ceil- ing geometrically. To improve the fire protection, besides a new emergency staircase, new fire protection doors were invented: within the spatial and historic context four massive oak wood fire doors were built. The origin of their crimped surface is a floral pattern, a thistle blossom, which was transmitted into a 3D-model and then transcribed by a CNC milling machine.
The museum is to be expanded and thus enabled to show changing exhibitions dedicated to recent Swiss history. The new building, whose completion is planned for 2016, adds to the existing museum facility, and thus enables the visitors to take a round tour of both the old and new buildings. The extension recognizes the architectural themes of the older buildings and interprets these anew: the juxtapo- sition of different parts of the buildings, the roof landscape and the stone facades. Thus old and new communicate and together they form the new Swiss National Museum. A central motif of the exten- sion is the bridge which constitutes a spatial and visual relationship between the park and the museum building.
1st prize, competition, 2002
Construction (1st phase): 2003–2009
Gross floor area: 6,960 m2
Net floor area: 5,230 m2