[Images: The Kolumba art gallery, by Peter Zumthor].

Steve Rose of the Guardian this morning greets us with a “magnificent art gallery with a ruined gothic church in the basement.”
The gallery is in Cologne, Germany, it’s called Kolumba, and it was recently designed by architect Peter Zumthor.
The building’s “cavernous ground-floor room,” Rose writes, “is dimly lit, but fresh air and dappled sunlight spill in from honeycomb-like perforations high above.”
Even better: “Embedded in the light brick walls are the blackened windows and arches of a ruined gothic church, onto which this new building has been grafted.” And, “disappearing into the depths and the darkness, are the excavated ruins of crypts, vaults and foundations.”

[Images: The Kolumba art gallery, by Peter Zumthor].

The backstory, briefly, is that the church – called St. Kolumba – was “reduced to rubble during the second world war,” but, we read, “[a] wooden Madonna survived the bombing so, after the war, local architect Gottfried Böhm built the small octagonal chapel on the site, dedicated to the ‘Madonna of the Ruins’. In the 1970s, excavations revealed evidence of previous churches, not to mention vaults filled with human bones.”
Evidence of previous churches! Such a beautiful phrase. Finding evidence of other buildings – older buildings – inside the building you’re now standing in.
Or perhaps you find evidence of a newer building, inside the building you’re standing in – and you realize, stunned, that someone is replacing the building, slowly and in secret over the course of several years, in bits and pieces, here and there, leaving traces, evidence, clues.
In any case, Kolumba, with its swirling foundations on top of foundations on top of crypts, now houses religious art.
In 650 years, someone will build another museum atop its wreckage.

(Thanks, Nicky!)

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