Architecture with a sense of art and nature
Ernst Beyeler chose this site in his home town Riehen for its ideal relation to nature. Sheltered from the clamour of daily life, a perfect place to put time and space behind one.
The museum is meant to answer to art and not assert itself through architectural extravagance. The galleries are defined by their balanced proportions, use of materials and exceptional lighting. The architecture’s discreet tranquillity preserves the character of the works of art.
The ground plan
The two perimeter walls of the original garden site inspired the idea of the museum’s layout. Four 115-metre-long walls run north to south in parallel lines. These axes are subdivided by transverse walls to form variously sized galleries.
A type of natural stone was sought which would blend into the landscape, making the building look as if it had been there forever. Local sandstone, however, does not emanate the kind of permanence the museum wished to convey. An unusually beautiful kind of porphyry was found in Patagonia. Given that cargo vessels use this stone as ballast, the cost of transporting it was modest.
The glass roof
The museum was designed to be bathed in natural light, which led to the idea of installing a lightweight glass roof. It rests on top of the solid foundation walls like free-floating element, forming a sharp contrast to the massiveness of the natural stone. The roof admits northern light but screens off light from the East and the West. Along the northern and the southern sides the roof projects far beyond the walls, shading the glass façades from the sun. The frosted, shed-like glass panels prevent hard shadows being cast inside the galleries. Nonetheless, the interior is subject to subtle changes of light, which gives the rooms a dynamic ambiance.
The exhibition galleries
The rhythmical sequence of variously proportioned galleries stimulates the visitors’ appreciation of the works on display. Under-floor air ducts furnish the rooms with fresh, temperature-controlled air.
The winter garden
The western façade looks out onto the peaceful expanse of corn fields and vines covering the Tüllinger Hills. It is an ideal rest area, a calm haven where visitors can absorb their intense encounters with art, a place to dwell and contemplate.
The water pond by the southern façade
The pool with its water lilies mirrors Monet’s paintings and provides a fluid transition between inside and out. Art meets nature in harmonious correspondence. The stone seating on the terraced lawn rising up behind the pond offers visitors a view from the outside of the art in the museum.
The English landscaped park with its historical stock of trees and gently curving paths is the setting for an encounter with works of art by Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly, small ponds and a belvedere. In fine weather, from this point one can take in the panorama of the sweeping hills and the surrounding country.
This late-Baroque villa stands vis-à-vis the museum building and houses the museum’s administration department. With a terrace overlooking the park, Restaurant Berower offers a range of culinary pleasures to match those of the museum visit. Fondation Beyeler seeks to satisfy all the senses.