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  • Writer's pictureAnna Dorothea Ker, MA

A Brief History of Berlin's Museum for Architectural Drawing

What is The Museum for Architectural Drawing?

The Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin contains historical and contemporary architectural drawings. The museum was established in 2009 by Russian-German architect Sergei Tchoban.

Berlin's Museum for Architectural Drawing

History of The Museum for Architectural Drawing

Amidst Berlin’s patchwork of architectural styles, certain buildings stand out. This four-storey, near-windowless structure in the affluent northern district of Prenzlauer Berg does so literally, jutting out from its neighbours. Its half-turned corners recall a chunky Tetris cube, though an opulent one: the gently cantilevered glass penthouse crowning the building that lends it a soaring effervescence in its gleaming reflection of the sky.

In stark contrast to the auburn brick of its surrounding buildings – once the site of the so-called Pfefferberg, a brewery-cum-factory complex founded in the mid-19th century – the stacked monotone volume is striking in its simplicity. However, on closer inspection you’ll see the sandy-beige concrete walls reveal themselves as rich canvases for intricate details of moulding and decoration: motifs repeat, and modulate in subtle patterns, just as an architect’s series of evolving sketches might.

This intriguing structure contains the Museum for Architectural Drawing, designed by Russian architecture bureau SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov. The museum was intended originally as a home for the archives of the Tchoban Foundation, a collection of architectural drawings spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. Russian-German architect Sergei Tchoban established the foundation in 2009, himself harbouring a penchant for drawings by Russian Constructivists and the Old Masters. His purchase of a Pietro di Gottardo Gonzaga drawing in 2001 became the cornerstone for his collection, which has rapidly expanded in scale and scope ever since.

Alongside rotating architectural graphics on loan from a range of prestigious international institutions (ranging impressively from London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum, Paris’s École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery) curators select items from the permanent collection for display. These are showcased across four yearly exhibitions on upper floor loggias, one of which opens up to connect the building’s internal core to the surrounding streets. The structure also contains a research library, and a number of drawing cabinets containing the foundation’s meticulous archives of architectural representations, sheltered from natural daylight for preservation purposes.

Now firmly integrated into Berlin’s cultural and architectural landscape, the Museum for Architectural Drawing has transcended its primary purpose as an extensive repository for architectural drawings. And as an architectural statement itself, it triumphs. Faithful to its mandate of accessibility and transparency to the public, it offers a deeper look into the world of the built environment – one that seems familiar at surface level, but whose secrets, revelations, and stories are boundless.

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