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Cabinet Scale

Berlin has got the Museum of Architectural Graphics whose building was designed by "SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov".

Nina Frolova

Written by:
Nina Frolova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

10 June 2013
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The museum, founded by Tchoban Foundation is located in the district of Prenzlauer Berg, on the territory of the former Pfefferberg brewery, where now various art galleries are situated, as well as design studios and other companies relating to the "creative industry". Side by side with the new establishment, there stands the architectural gallery Aedes, whose founder Kristin Feireiss is a member of the curatorial board of the Museum of Architectural Graphics.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

The small building was adjoined to the firewall of a residential building, while its main facade faces the perspective of the Christinenstraße: it is clearly visible to the pedestrians coming from the Senefelderplatz where the nearest subway station is located. The concrete surface of the wall is painted with abstractionist motifs coupled with fragments of the sketch of a theater decoration by Pietro di Gonzago: it was this particular painting acquired by Sergey Tchoban back in 2001 that became the starting point of his collection of architectural drawings that he has now handed over to the museum that he himself founded. The building that was designed by Sergey Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov demonstrates the characteristic of SPEECH Bureau decorative treatment of the facades with this method infiltrating indoors; the project includes details that are executed in a single style down to the last door handle and staircase railing. At the same time, the top floor in the shape of a glass cantilever with its bottom surface executed from polished stainless steel puts one in the mind of another Berlin building - the nhow hotel.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov 

With a total area of a little under 500 sqm, the building has in it five above-ground tiers, and an underground one, all of them being "chamber" size and reminding one with their scale of a historical house rather than a contemporary building. Considering the fact that the exhibits - architectural drawings - require examining from a small distance, this size, just as marking the exhibition halls as "cabinets" or "studies" seem more than appropriate. This has to do with one technical limitation, though: the exhibition area can simultaneously accommodate - at the least convenient rate - some thirty visitors, and this is why if the exhibitions are going to be all too popular, the practice of waiting lists will have to be introduced.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

The first floor is occupied by the lobby that is designed as a library in a private house would be: here the visitors can wait for their turn, leafing through the books or buying the catalogue. The space is visually expanded by a dark mirror ceiling. Higher up, there are two floors with an exhibition hall upon each of them, the repository tier, and the top floor is occupied by a terrace with a transparent prism of the meeting room that can accommodate lectures, panel discussions, and press conferences.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

The two exhibition halls are configured as wide "corridors": such configuration provides maximum wall surface area for hanging the exhibits together with the minimum comfortable width of the room of 3.72 meters. Totally, the museum has a capacity of demonstrating up to 70 works, as well as organizing a separate exhibition in each of the halls placed on top of one another. Thanks to the thick concrete bearing walls and the absence of windows in the exhibition halls, the museum shows the properties of a thermos jug: it is capable of keeping for a long time its inside temperature and humidity (45%) and thus protecting the interior from any weather changes outside. This made the construction really energy-efficient: with the German consumption standard for new buildings being 290 kWt/h/sqm per year, it only consumes 50. Also, the constant monitoring of the temperature and humidity, various safety systems, lighting with the minimum backlight allow for showcasing the most valuable exhibits. For example, the first exhibition was the collection of drawings from the temples of Paestum by Giovanni Battista Piranesi from London's John Soane's Museum: in the home walls, there was no opportunity to exhibit them all together simultaneously, and this is why this summer the Berlin visitors have a rare opportunity to appreciate the whole of this graphic ensemble. After that, these works, unique in their quality and size, will be shown in Morgan Library Museum, New-York, USA.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Meanwhile, this summer, Soane's Museum is going to showcase the best exhibits from Tchoban Foundation (to which the museum belongs), and the drawings by Sergey Tchoban. The work of the Berlin museum is based on the principle of exchange: this way its function - popularization of graphics as an important part of the architectural culture - is performed to the fullest. It is planned that there will be four exhibitions a year, 2-3 from the materials supplied by partner museums: besides Soane's Museum, their list includes: École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (it should supply the exhibitions by Charles Garnier and its graduates, the laureates of Prix de Rome), and the State Museum of Architecture named after A.V.Schusev; negotiations with New-York Museum of Modern Art are being successively conducted. The museum program combines the works of the masters of the past with the works of our contemporaries: besides the drawings made by Tchoban himself, his collection features drawings by Zvi Hecker, Ben Van Berkel, and Wolf D. Prix.

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov


Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov
Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov


Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov


Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Roland Halbe. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov
Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov
Museum of Architectural Graphics © Patricia Parinejad. Courtesy of SPEECH Tchoban&Kuznetsov

Museum of Architectural Graphics © Nina Frolova

Sketch by Sergey Tchoban




Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Paestum. View of the Basilica from the south. Pencil, brown and black watercolor, ink. John Soane's Museum
Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Paestum. View of the Temple of Neptune from the north-east. Pencil, brown and black watercolor, ink. John Soane's Museum



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10 June 2013

Nina Frolova

Written by:

Nina Frolova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
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