John Pawson Designs New Bastian Gallery in Berlin

Animated by the daily narrative of natural light and a sense of intimate connection with the surrounding park, the design of the Bastian Gallery in the Dahlem district of Berlin has been shaped by the idea of re-examining prevailing contemporary notions of what constitutes appropriate space for the viewing of art.

The gallery is conceived as a rectilinear volume, clad in sandstone and set amongst mature trees. A rhythmic series of full height openings, edged in galvanised steel, punctuates the facades, the elongated proportions of the composition subtly enriched by the vertical graining of the oak used for doors and for ventilation elements.

The building’s 12.5 x 20m footprint creates a 500 sqm programme, divided equally between ground floor and basement levels, with stone floors and ceiling heights of 5.6 m in the public ground floor galleries and timber floors and 2.8m-high ceilings in the downstairs staff areas.

In the galleries, the atmosphere and the detail of the viewing conditions are set by the rigorously pared back character of the spaces, the side-long fall of natural light and the delicacy of the thresholds drawn between the interior and exterior worlds of art and nature.