The new exhibition hall is the latest addition to the richly diverse world of high-quality art and cultural architecture in Kassel, home of the documenta. On the edge of the baroque park Karlsaue lies the Art Academy, a building designed by Paul Friedrich Posenenske in 1962. The new hall was erected in the inner courtyard of the historically protected building, thus drawing on a site that Posenenske had originally conceived for a possible expansion.
The building, a hall comprising roughly 450m² exhibition space, can serve as an “exhibition lab” for students or as a space for the production of large-scale artworks. The rectangular structure is positioned concentrically in the courtyard, creating quality outdoor spaces of varying characters. A generous front plaza can receive visitors properly alongside an intimate green space with 7 Beuys trees. The exhibition hall can be opened to all sides – incorporating the in-between spaces into the exhibition area. The building has no back, it equally communicates to all sides and thus fully respects the original architecture.
The new edifice appears as a wooden pavilion with a delicate architectural language. Its dark façade design clearly sets it apart from Posenenske's building in terms of material and colour yet borrows the hue from the original's most striking component: the outer steel structure. The hall's structure, which is visible
throughout and clearly articulated by the framework, is another clear reference to the historically listed building.
A clear inner structure facilitates the variety of uses, from a full unpartitioned hall to multiple individual spaces for work or exhibition purposes. The façade area also provides a range of accessibilities as well as every degree of lighting or darkening. An extremely flexible space, with an interior dominated by raw and untreated wood surfaces, which subtly relate to the saw-rough exposed concrete surfaces of the existing buildings.
One special feature of the building are the light lenses positioned in the upper wall area. 864 curved glass elements, designed and produced specifically for the project, provide circumferential, diffuse light to the interior. In their graphic and distinctive quality, they give the exhibition hall its unique standing within the
The building was constructed entirely of wood, meeting today's energetic and ecological demands, particularly in terms of sustainability: glulam for cylindrical components such as columns, beams and transoms; cross laminated timber for flat components such as roof formwork and wall panels. The joints are handcrafted. Structure and design, function and economy are in harmony.