Project Information +

New Museum Building Detmold Germany

New Museum Building Detmold Freilichtsmuseum Germany

Keith Williams Architects was invited by LWL Detmold Freilichtsmuseum to participate in the architectural competition to design a new gateway building for the existing open-air museum in Detmold, a small city in North Rhine-Westphalia. Occupying 90 Hectares with 110 reconstructed historic buildings, the LWL Open Air Museum Detmold in the Teutoburg Forest is the largest open-air museum in Germany and one of the most important in Europe. 

The project called for a new 3,100m2 entrance building with visitor facilities, education and lecture spaces and two major galleries giving 1,100m2 for special exhibitions.

Concept, Landscape and Connections with the existing Museum

Keith Williams’ proposals set out an architectural vision for a bold new sustainable gateway building that encapsulates Detmold Museum’s future symbolising its engagement with a new generation of museum goers. The new building’s plan and 3D form responded to its interior programme and the geometry and contour of the historic estate allowing it to engage seamlessly with its levels, pathways and roads, and embed itself into the historic landscape.

The new museum will be clad in a single material of Jura limestone, presenting its longest facade to the main approach, maximising its impact and visibility. Its distinctive sawtooth rooflights bring light into the heart of the galleries and create a powerful architectural silhouette, adding identity to the museum whilst making a subtle reference to the architecture of the historic buildings that populate the estate. 

The architectural programme has been organised across two levels to coincide with the contours of the existing terrain, connecting directly with the approach levels and the wider museum estate.

The main entrance level houses, the entrance foyer, shop, discovery centre, film projection, meeting rooms and offices.

The upper level houses two toplit interconnected column free galleries with blackout capability , gallery service spaces, deliveries and storage and the café with views across the estates formal parterres to the existing mausoleum.

Energy and Sustainability

The building was designed to be a Plus-energie-museum. Daylight is provided to all relevant spaces, with either natural ventilation or mixed mode according to conservation requirements. The galleries utilise a displacement ventilation system and have strict humidity and temperature control requirements 20-27oC and 48-58% RH. (ASHRAE A). The building will have a very high level of insulation to stabilise the interior environment, and the concrete structure will be used as a heat sink and a source of night-time cooling.

Other measures include :

    • Ground source heat pump to provide background low level heat.
    • Solar and pvs arrays situated within the wider estate 
    • Water attenuation and grey water recycling
    • Cooling via the pond in the forecourt


Client: LWL Detmold Freilichtsmuseum

Project location: Detmold, Germany

Built area: 3,100 m2

Year : 2018

Cost : €16 million