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German-Japanese Siebold Museum

Würzburg - Germany


Redevelopment of an industrial archaeological area.


Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796/1866) was a German doctor and naturalist, and the first European to teach Western medicine in Japan where he introduced vaccinations.


The complete project included the urban redevelopment of an industrial archaeological site and it involved the reconversion of the main villa in a German-Japanese museum. The project was to restore the area by including various types of tertiary functions anticipating subsequent interventions.

A part of the first floor kept its residential use with guest quarters for university researchers.

The exhibition spaces were designed to create visual unity between the levels with the opening of a double-height space between the ground floor and the first floor. The demolition of part of the floor was possible after the construction materials had been tested at the Materials Research Institute in Munich.

The project was developed in close collaboration with the Fire Brigade in order to combine respect for fire safety regulations with the wish to keep the historical elements of the building. The firefighters had proposed replacing the existing staircase or creating a secondary ramp. The first suggestion would have damaged an ancient stone element according to construction expertise, while the second would have cluttered up the interior reducing the exhibition space.

The design of an external spiral staircase between the first floor and the mansard achieved three objectives: compliance with fire safety regulations, saving the original carved stone steps, and maintaining the exhibition spaces.

The project also included the basement with the building of a cafeteria, one of the first to be installed in a museum.

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