In recent decades, the Stapferhaus Lenzburg has made a name for itself beyond the country's borders with exhibitions on contemporary themes, but there are no permanent premises available. In recent years it has been possible to use an old armoury belonging to the local citizens' municipality of Lenzburg as an exhibition hall, which is now to make way for a new use in the medium term. The offices are currently located at Lenzburg Castle in the eponymous Stapferhaus, which is associated with organisational and operational disadvantages. For these reasons, the Foundation Board has decided to realise a definitive location for the exhibition, event and office rooms of the Stapferhaus as well as for an inviting café/foyer in a building in the immediate vicinity of Lenzburg railway station. The new Haus der Gegenwart is to be a highly flexible exhibition building in the immediate vicinity of Lenzburg railway station, with an attractive appearance, flexibility, functionality and openness.
An airy, agile, urban building is to be created that is not to be realised in the museum standard, but rather as a simple and functional building that can be compared with the exhibition construction standard. In this way, it meets the need to provide a versatile shell for the regularly changing exhibitions. As a "black box", the exhibition rooms are easily adaptable to the constantly changing spaces of experience, while the office and event rooms encourage creative work and engagement with contemporary issues. At the same time, the new building harmoniously complements the cityscape and the station area to be redesigned and sets a strong signal.
The design for the "Haus der Gegenwart" (House of the Present) by the Biel-based architecture firm :mlzd does not initially focus on a building, but on an area. It is the field of action, this is where the exhibition begins. This area is a place to stay, a space for events, an entrance and an advertising board. Programmatically, the design consists of two parts. On the one hand, there are the inflexible, serving spaces such as office, cabinet, workshop and infrastructure, which are stored in separate docked volumes. On the other hand, there are the maximally flexible, serviced spaces that are part of the exhibition in the broadest sense. This contrast shapes the building.
A three-storey cuboid forms the main volume of the design. Its construction is reduced to the maximum, walls can be inserted and ceilings removed. The remaining infrastructure is integrated into the few fixed elements. The outer walls can be removed, hung, painted and glued. The subordinate fixed volumes are arranged around this main volume. Their peripheral position visibly identifies them as serving the main volume. Their diversity in form and materiality refers to their strict purpose. The composition of all parts is on the one hand balanced and at the same time deliberately imperfect. The appearance of the future "Haus der Gegenwart" is not heroic and institutional, but open to additions and tolerant of change. The building conveys with its external pragmatism on the radicality of its interior. The content is the main actor.
For the competition, the architectural firm :mlzd commissioned Loomn, as an agency for architectural visualisations, to create images of the planned project. The visualisations provide the expert jury with a detailed view and bring the "House of the Present" to life already in the planning phase. Loomn created 3D images of the exterior and additionally also of the foyer, which allows the design idea to be convincingly conveyed. The jury's verdict: "The internal organisation is functional and coherently constructed, the directionless and column-free exhibition areas offer great freedom for playability."