The landscape with its gently curved lines, in which the Zentrum Paul Klee lies embedded, gave architect Renzo Piano the decisive formal impulses for his building: The three hills of steel and glass take up the already present landscape form and extend this in an entirely natural fashion, so that the building and its surroundings fuse together to create a unity, a «landscape sculpture». Using the famous statement by Paul Klee, «Art does not depict the visible, but reveals the visible», the landscape sculpture wishes to reveal tendencies, shapes, colours and structures and place them in relationship to the architecture.
The Berne University for Applied Sciences, College for Agriculture (SHL) in Zollikofen has from the beginning accompanied the planning, realisation and management of the landscape sculpture with its specialist knowledge. The management concept is being continuously developed in close collaboration with the SHL.
The pathway through the area around the Zentrum offers the opportunity to let the landscape sculpture make its impression from various perspectives.
In the Sculpture Park Martha Müller-Lüthi, the founder of the Zentrum Paul Klee, makes part of her collection of contemporary art accessible to the public free of charge. The Sculpture Park stands in a topographical relationship to the local conditions of the place. Rows of silver birch trees and six organically arranged sculptures of bronze and oxidised weathering steel, border the undulating path through the garden landscape. They are works by Alicia Penalba, Oscar Wiggli and Yves Dana.
Several of the around 200 geological finds, discovered during the excavation for the Zentrum Paul Klee, today decorate the southern edge of the Zentrum’s borders and the two ponds, donated by the Müller family to the Zentrum and the district.
Beside the Zentrum Paul Klee stands the Villa Schöngrün. This house, built before the industrial age, is reminiscent of the country settings of the summer residences of Berne’s aristocracy. The villa, now under preservation, has been carefully restored and extended with a glass pavilion. The «Restaurant Schöngrün» now offers the possibility to indulge in culinary delights also in combination with a visit to the museum.
In the immediate vicinity of the Zentrum Paul Klee is the Schosshalden graveyard. Here Paul Klee and his family are buried. A simple bronze plaque on the grave facing away from the Zentrum Paul Klee bears an inscription by Paul Klee from the year 1920: «In this world I cannot be reached. Since I reside as easily with the dead, as with the unborn. Somewhat closer to the heart of creation than usual. And still not nearly close enough.»
In the brochure «Steps for Klee» the 18 paths and streets named after pictures in the surroundings of the Zentrum Paul Klee are presented. With these dedications the parliament of Berne wishes to honour the comprehensive artistic achievement of Paul Klee.