The Kunsthaus Bregenz (KUB) was designed by Peter Zumthor and stands like a box of light on the shores of Lake Constance. It features a glass and concrete construction which has received multiple distinctions for its construction method. It is an example of architectural minimalism.
Its inner light is ever-changing, depending on the type of exhibition installed inside, the time of the day and the colour of the sky. The building was designed to catch light with all of its surface and then distribute it into the three levels of the gallery space plus the ground floor.
The glass skin is a free standing structure supported by a metal frame; it also protects the interior concrete tower from rain and wind. The façade consists of 712 finely etched equally-sized glass panels weighing some 250kg each, secured by clips to a steel framework. These panels form a free-standing, light-diffusing skin, independent of the actual building, that serves to initially refract the incident daylight and conduct it to the light ceilings in the exhibition halls. At dark, the artificial lighting from the interior shines through inner light bands and outer skin to show the building’s interior life. The gap between light skin and building accommodates servicing equipment. Artists exhibiting at the KUB have sometimes made use of the façade in their installations.
Materials distinguish the interior, with exposed unpainted concrete visibly dominating. The floors and stairways are of polished terrazzo, the walls and ceilings of exposed unpolished concrete. The ground floor accommodates foyer, checkroom, cashier’s desk, and catalogue sales, although most of its almost 500 m2 is used as a multifunctional exhibiting space for KUB Arena projects. Aside from its etched glass outer walls, three differently positioned concrete wall-slabs are visible on the ground floor. These support the Kunsthaus floors and ceilings, structuring the exhibition space on all three upper stories and dividing it from the main stairways, emergency exits, and passenger and freight elevators. Uniformly positioned entrances and exits structure a route through ground floor and upper stories.