Musée D’Art Moderne (MUDAM)
Situated among the embankment walls that originally surrounded the arrow-shaped inner fort, thus merging with the rich history of the site.
The Musée d’Art Moderne (MUDAM) is sited at the edge of Luxembourg’s historic center, on the grounds of eighteenth-century Fort Thungen. This fortification formed part of the defensive system that once secured the city’s reputation as one of the most fortified cities in Europe.
The building is clad in honey-colored French limestone. Its north side, where the exhibition galleries are concentrated, is pierced by recessed openings. The south façade, by contrast, is entirely glass, affording views of the ramparts and the historic city center beyond.
Descending through a forest-like park, visitors cross the historic moats into the entrance foyer, which opens towards a voluminous central space – the Grand Hall. Here, large glass facades and openings allow views to the old fort, as well to two adjacent, also sky lit spaces – the sculpture gallery and winter garden – from where the more intimate galleries can be accessed.
All public spaces are clad with the same limestone as the exterior. Filled joints between stones give the building a monolithic expression, enhanced by some articulated details, like the carefully carved-in handrail.
Structural beams and slabs are executed with light colored architectural concrete, also emphasizing the homogeneous overall impression. Special formwork made of Oregon pine made possible the fine texture of the concrete.
The space frame skylight structures are made of stainless steel tension cables and lightweight ties, free spanning a distance of 30 m.
In the Grand Hall, fine metal tubes are mounted between the skylight roof members. Those tubes, creating a fascinated sun-shading on the large glass roof triangles, are also used for acoustical and cooling purposes: partly filled with sound-absorbing material, they ameliorate the acoustics in the large space, or, when filled with water, help to cool it in the summer.
The museum contains over 3,500 square meters of exhibit space on three levels. Visitors rise from floor to floor by several grand stairs, perspectives constantly changing, movement itself becoming an exciting event.
A glass bridge, crossing the ruins of the fort, leads to a small pavilion and allows views out over the site. A similar experience is provided by a cantilevered glass stair, which extends from the museum’s sculptural volume.
Due to curatorial requirements, most of the gallery spaces are mainly enclosed – with the exception of the “Premier Etage,” where large, curved concrete sheds create a fine atelier atmosphere.