Not all architecture is above ground. Architecture can happen under the dirt and pavement, or even throughout its pliable surface. This week, we’re looking at recent work by architects who manipulate the ground to achieve different effects. Monday, we saw Dutch bunkers sinking in verdant quicksand and yesterday we looked at a Danish quilt in Nørrebro. Both of these earlier project treated the ground as a monolithic solid, but today we’re heading to German to see museum extension that exploits the ground as a thin green skin.
That thin, grassy skin stretches over a new extension to the observatory of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Berlin. Designed by Huber Staudt Architekten, the extension peels up the lawn and inserts modern, day-lit spaces next to the staunch and neoclassical observatory that happens to be the oldest physics laboratory building in the world. The new addition houses an MRI facility, and connects to the basement of the observatory. The architect’s strategy to peel and bury allows the addition to keep a low profile from some angles, preserving views of it’s historic and recently restored neighbor. But from other angles the addition is more visible and lets in light from floor to ceiling windows.