Museum for Architectural Drawing A Journey Through Architecture in an Elevator

Tchoban Foundation Berlin, exhibition
Tchoban Foundation Berlin, exhibition | Photo: Roland Halbe

A privately financed museum in Berlin is dedicated to architectural drawing. On display are works from several centuries.

Some cities have found themselves unexpectedly having to dig deep in the city till to finance a new art museum. When a private collector generously offers to make its treasures available to the public, for example, under the condition that a museum is built to accommodate the gift or permanent loan. It is, however, considerably less common for a collector to provide the museum and actually operate the premises as well. This is exactly what has happened in Berlin, on the site of a former brewery on the Pfefferberg, near the international Aedes Architecture Forum and the Studio Olafur Eliasson. This is the location of the Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing that opened in June 2013.

A collection from six centuries

  • Tchoban Foundation Berlin, Fassadendetail Foto: Roland Halbe
    Tchoban Foundation Berlin, Fassadendetail
  • Tchoban Foundation Berlin Foto: Roland Halbe
    Tchoban Foundation Berlin
  • Tchoban Foundation Berlin Foto: Roland Halbe
    Tchoban Foundation Berlin
  • Tchoban Foundation Berlin, Bibliothek Foto: Roland Halbe
    Tchoban Foundation Berlin, Bibliothek
Architect Sergei Tchoban, born in St. Petersburg, is a partner in the Berlin architectural practice nps tchoban voss and in the Moscow practice Speech Tchoban & Kuznetsov. He is also known as an outstanding draughtsman with his own exhibitions at home and abroad. He is a collector, promoter, impresario and curator in this field of art that has now lost its purpose as applied graphics in architectural practice due to the introduction of computer aided design software. Today architectural drawings are considered to belong to the fine arts sector. Sergei Tchoban’s collection of major works from six centuries, that focuses on the 17th and 18 century and Russian Constructivists, has, for the most part, been turned into a foundation.

The sponsor-backed foundation is not running a museum just to present its own collection. Tchoban has built up an international network and has set a headstone for mutual exchange, with exhibitions in the Eremitage St. Petersburg, for example, in the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris or in Soane´s Museum London. To celebrate the launch of the exhibition Soane´s Museum is also presenting the singular collection Piranesi’s Paestum – master drawings uncovered, with rare hand drawings of the artist who just prepared preliminary sketches for his famous engravings “Imaginary prisons” and Roman views. The series of drawings of the temples in Paestum show detailed views by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, that were drawn in 1788 during the last year of his life, as his strength dwindled. They were to enable his son to prepare engravings and to publish them posthumously.

A treasure chest for architectural drawing

The museum is the ideal location for intimate showcase exhibitions of this kind. The building, designed by Tchoban’s Speech office in Moscow, has been erected on a small lot and resembles four loosely stacked and practically closed cubes. The walls of a beige concrete design resemble sandstone and the work of a stonemason. Decorated with reliefs on the outer façade, depicting greatly enlarged fragments of drawings from the collection, the walls seem to open out like a stack of drawings - the exterior clearly referring to the purpose of the building. The interior design is like a treasure chest with its special care for details designed in precious materials.

Attractive enrichtment

Tchoban Foundation, top floor Tchoban Foundation, top floor | Photo: Roland Halbe The ground level of the building accommodates a reception hall and a small reference library. Walnut wall panelling repeats the motifs on the outer façade. Also the concrete walls of the elevator shaft are designed with the relief pattern. Once inside the glass elevator the visitor can embark on a journey through architectural history.

Two irregularly projecting exhibition levels – reminiscent of a set of drawers – are followed by an archive level. The hermetic building is crowned with a glass cube offering panoramic views, two roof terraces and magnificent working space for curators and administration.

The Pfefferberg, just two metro stops to the north of Alexanderplatz, has developed into a thriving cultural area over recent years, with galleries and art studios of international standing. The Tchoban Foundation enriches the architectural fabric of the booming Pfefferberg location and significantly widens the cultural opportunities.