Built on the ruins of the Gothic Church of St. Columba in the old center of Cologne, not far from the city’s spectacular cathedral, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s Kolumba Museum stands as an equally uplifting and melancholic testament to the glorious and the bleak chapters of the city’s past.
The building does not reveal a lot from the outside. Apart from a series of holes puncturing the facades halfway up and some large, square windows, it appears to be a closed box of slender and neatly aligned light grey bricks. But entering from the foyer into the main room of the museum’s lower level, everything falls into place.
The walls are windowless apart from the perforations lining the top, casting filtered light into the double height room. A zigzagging pathway guides you through the archaeological excavations between slim concrete columns pinning up the ceiling.