Tag Archives: germany

Porsche Pavilion

Porsche Pavilion in Wolfsburg, Germany by HENN, 2012.

The Autostadt is a theme park in Wolfsburg, Germany, that is focused on "people, cars and what moves them." The mobility-themed park, which is laid out around an artificial lagoon, features pavilions for Audi, Lamborghini, Volkswagen (the park is basically a communications platform for VW and its various brands), and now Porsche, whose arcing structure designed by HENN Architekten recently opened. The pavilion is located in the lagoon's southeast corner, and the design takes many cues from this location.

By locating itself right on the lagoon, the pavilion blends architecture and landscape (HENN worked with WES, the landscape architects responsible for the entire Autostadt plan); it defines the water's edge through curving terraced seats that provide seating for visitors. The pavilion proper is halfway along this arcing plan that alludes to the curves of a highway. The dramatic soaring roof shelters part of the seating and extends over the water; it cantilevers a full 25 meters (82 feet).

From above and other parts of the Autostadt, it appears that the project is solely focused on defining outdoor spaces, both the lagoon and the seating. But the tiered seating and arcing roof work together to respectively build up and enclose the interior space, an organic space served by an elliptical ramp from above. The light and soaring character of the exterior is eschewed in favor of a dark space (hg merz architekten museumsgestalter and jangled nerves developed the exhibition and staging concept), where the cars can stand out.

What links the building and its client the most is the complex curvilinear forms realized through construction similar to the automotive industry. HENN describes the stainless steel shell as "similar to the monocoque construction technology used for lightweight structures in automotive and aerospace industries, the building envelope forms a spatial enclosure whilst at the same time acting as a load-bearing structure." The structure as skin is a smooth surface that recalls the aerodynamic form of cars. Unlike most cars that tend to look alike in their generic bodies, the Porsche Pavilion is as unique and distinctive as the namesake sports cars.

Extension to the Felix Nussbaum Haus

Extension to the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, Germany by Studio Daniel Libeskind, 2011.

Daniel Libeskind won the competition for the Jewish Museum in Berlin in 1989, months before the Berlin Wall came down. The Polish-born architect's design -- an exploded Star of David sliced by a void space -- is one of the most important projects of the last decade of the 20th century. Yet even though the museum is Libeskind's first notable commission (he produced mainly hard-to-understand drawings before it), it was not his first to be realized. The year before the Jewish Museum was completed in 1999, Libeskind's design for the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück opened. Twelve years later the architect added to his first realized project with an extension that includes an entrance hall with museum shop and a learning center.

In a number of ways Libeskind's design for Felix Nussbaum Haus is similar to the Jewish Museum: it's an addition to an old building, creating a strong contrast between new and old; its windows cut across the facades and include asymmetrical polygonal openings; it features a linear space (the Nussbaum Passage) criss-crossed by diagonal structure; it has a free-standing concrete volume that anchors the building; and Nussbaum was a Jewish artist in Germany, therefore dealing with the same issues as the museum in Berlin. To put it another way, both buildings are a product of highly focused thinking on the part of the architect at the time. More than a decade later it's clear to see that Libeskind's formal palette is consistent; of course an architect adding to his own building should result in no less.

As an architect it is a great honor to be asked to design an extension to this museum for the city of Osnabrück. It is a true celebration that the museum for Nussbaum (who was once a forgotten artist) is growing and expanding not only architecturally but also in our hearts and minds. The integration of the new extension with the present symbolizes that the memory of Nussbaum will have a vibrant and ongoing narration. -Daniel Libeskind

The extension is attached to the Felix Nussbaum Haus by a glass walkway, but its siting is immediately adjacent to the older building, the Kunstgeschichtliche Museum (Art History Museum). Libeskind contends that the color and material relate to both previous buildings; his earlier design was rendered in metal, wood, and concrete, while the oldest building is orange/brown brick. The extension's material of choice is gray plaster, and black steel frames make the many-shaped windows stand out, sending radiating lines across the facades. Needless to say, the new palette and fenestration contrasts with the old brick building and aligns itself with Libeskind's predecessor; to contrast with his earlier design would have been difficult.

Contrast in the triangular addition comes in the change from dark exterior to light interior. The bright and white lobby echoes the galleries of the Felix Nussbaum Haus, but they are found via the dark concrete passage, skylit yet belying the optimistic palette of these other spaces. In articulating the extension as something like Felix Nussbaum Haus, part 2, it feels like Libeskind did not push himself as much as he did on the first building. Perhaps he didn't want to detract from the earlier project; or maybe he aimed for a "completion" of what he started over a decade ago. Regardless, the highlight is actually the glass bridge that links the various parts. It opts for a simple transparency over dynamic formal gestures, and in the process acts as a frame for the buildings and the nature that surrounds them.

The extension opened in May 2011 and was completed with architect of record ReindersArchitekten, who also worked with Libeskind on the original Felix Nussbaum Haus.

House at the Park

House at the Park in Hamburg, Germany by splendid_architecture, 2010.

Hamburg-based splendid_architecture recently won two awards for their design of "House at the Park" on the outskirts of the same German city. The BDA (Alliance of German Architects) awarded the house an "award for the most beautiful new built house," and it received a public vote for the same. Architects Nina and Stephan Schmid explain that "due to pre-conditions the house was built partly on piles, in order to integrate it into an old tree population."

Seen from the road, the house sits at the far end of an expanse of grass, tucked by the trees as if for protection and views out. Getting closer the S-shaped ribbon that meanders from roof to wall to floor to roof to wall and floor again (in two directions) acts like podium, raising the house above the landscape that it also integrates itself into. The U-shaped plan on the first floor locates living spaces up front and bedrooms with more privacy in the rear; between is dining. The bar above houses the master bedroom.

Of course, the most striking area where the house makes concessions to the trees is the small court near the front of the house. Here the tree rises from a gravel pit flush with the stone floor and pokes through a square opening in the roof above. Oddly this situation replaces the tree's canopy with the architectural one, meaning that those sitting in the court experience only the trees trunk, not its foliage. Instead one connects with the leaves from the house's interior and its roof terraces.

Built for a family of six, the house's generous living spaces are focused towards the central courtyard that is also marked by another mature tree. The varying levels of solidity and transparency, achieved through the use layers of stone and wood in front of glass walls, works towards issues of privacy in a house that is basically on display. With the expansive lawn fronting the house, an introverted focus with more transparency facing the courtyard makes sense. It also reinforces the importance of the trees that the architects worked so hard to preserve.

Elbberg Campus

Elbberg Campus in Hamburg, Germany by BRT Architects, 2003.

Hamburg-based Bothe Richter Teherani (BRT) has created a consistent body of work since the firm's inception in 1991, primarily office buildings. Formed by partners Jens Bothe, Kai Richter and Hadi Teherani, who all attended school at the Technical University in Braunschweig, their work is characterized by a contemporary aesthetic that expresses their main idea of wholeness, the integration of function, cost-efficiency and sustainability. The Elbberg Campus strives to create wholeness from new and existing buildings in the Altona area of Hamburg.

Consisting of office space and two types of living space (apartments and lofts), the mixed-use development places the office building alongside the road with the residential elements set back and a terrace created in-between the two. This open space has an irregular shape that is dictated by the existing buildings and the site and surroundings (click for aerial).

The character of each use is rendered differently, the office building featuring curved and folded, metal-clad planes that snake up and around the building. Seen on end from the street, glass walls with louver fill in the areas between these planes. Residential uses are propped upon the raised terrace plinth in low volumes that bend to follow the site, each accessible by footbridges from the courtyard.

Each component in and of itself is a well-done piece of architecture that could stand on its own. As a total mixed-use development, the terrace space becomes very important, the variety of spaces creating an interest that wouldn't be available otherwise. The Elbberg Campus is a valuable addition to the urban redevelopment of the Elbe embankment and nearby harbor.

[Google Earth link]

Sports Hall

Sports Hall in Ingolstadt, Germany by Fink + Jocher, 2002.

Munich architect Fink + Jocher created a luminous box from a typically solid and banal building type, the gymnasium. Their Sport Hall in Ingolstadt, Germany, used by both a neighboring high school and a local sports club, uses insulated glass with openings gives the rectangular building an eye-catching presence.

The simple plan places the open-space gymnasium to the north and the secondary facilities to the south, the former a long-span timber structure and the latter reinforced concrete construction. In the gymnasium space, slats near the ground protect the double-layered glass while allowing light to filter through both from the outside-in and inside-out. Furthermore, metal panels relate to tilting openings that allow the space to be naturally ventilated, protecting against excessive heating.

What looks like channel glass, the translucent skin is the most appealing feature of the design and hopefully it has the durability to hold up to its inevitable abuse from basketballs and other objects. The effect inside is just as dramatic as the effect outside, the room's siting and skin working together to ensure no distracting direct sunlight, a major problem in some gymnasiums.

Translucent, glowing skins are not new, but they have definitely grown in popularity since Herzog & de Meuron experimented with the application of that type of skin to industrial structures. Since, simple boxes can become more endearing, their interiors no longer separate and distant. Instead the space is veiled, giving a hint at what lies beneath without going for full transparency, out of function, privacy, or other concerns.


Stadthaus in Ostfildern, Germany by J. Mayer H., 2002.

Recipient of the European Union of Contemporary Architecture's Emerging Architect Special Mention award for 2003 is the Stadthaus in Ostfildern, Germany by J. Mayer H. Architekten of Berlin. The mixed-use building is located in Scharnhauser Park, housing municipal offices, a public library, art gallery, classrooms, and sports facilities, among other public spaces. Unification of these multiple uses happens in a simple boxy volume, with interest achieved through the use of artificial light, both internally and externally, among other means.

Before entering the building, the visitor experience a light and water installation in the form of computer-generated rain apparently dripping from the sizable cantilever of the roof. As well, an installation titled wind.light is located next to the Stadthaus, comprised of glass-fiber cables suspended from leaning poles. The ends of the cables dangle above the ground projecting points of light on the plaza surfaces, the power of the wind creating variations in the the light pattern and overall effect of the visitor's experience.

Scharnhauser Park's location in a former American military base near the Stuttgart Airport makes it worthy real estate for public use, rather than private development, such as office or residential. Stadthaus' location in the center of the Park and its subsequent architectural program make it the symbolic - not just geographic - center of the base's redevelopment. Its exterior appearance - boxy, simple, rusticated - is a foil both to the adjacent light installations and the bright and daring interiors.

The image above (click for an additional interior view) is indicative of the interior architecture's simplicity and use of artificial light that is hinted to on the exterior to a lesser effect. Lighting inside is abundant, artistic in its execution and dramatic in its impact. Following from the light installations outside the building, it is no surprise that the practical lighting for the interior would resemble an art installation or an art gallery over typical utilitarian uses. Needless to say, the Stadthaus is not simply about lighting. Its interior volumes help to unite the program in a way that furthers the contemporary aesthetic of the project, enough to earn it one of Europe's most coveted awards.

[Google Earth link]

BMW Welt

BMW Welt in Munich, Germany by Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Following an example set by German counterpart Volkswagen, BMW held a competition in 2001 for the BMW Welt, which will give customers the opportunity to "collect their dream BMW themselves." The competition for the site adjacent to the car company's Munich Plant and Museum, as well as Frei Otto's Olympic Park, drew entries from all over the world with 27 finalists including Asymptote, Wiel Arets, Morphosis and MVRDV. BMW chose Coop Himmelb(l)au's design for the Event and Distribution Center, to be completed in 2005.

Coop Himmelb(l)au's design features four elements - Landscape, Cloud, Double Cone and Spiral Ramp - that act to unite the four general parts of the program: Reception, Forum (art, science, and cultural auditorium), Brand World (the "vision and fascination of BMW") and Delivery Area. The Austrian firm's design was chosen as much for its ability to create a unified composition as for its ability to convey innovation through its aesthetics. Here architecture is seen as corporate image-making, something BMW is familiar with, with its 1972 BMW Tower and 1980's Research Center, each with designs indicative of their respective times.

Each program element is contained underneath a continuous roof that originates from an oft-used Coop Himmelb(l)au formal device, a pinched cylinder at the corner of the site (click for section). Ramps circle the pinched cylinder, helping to unite the various program elements through visual experience and movement, aided by the high degree of transparency present in the design.

To quote the winning architects, "The task set in this competition offers the opportunity to create a design that merges and hybridizes areas that in the past have been strictly separated at the interface of different structures of the urban landscape." By using computer technologies, as many of the other participants did, their design is able to blend the unique components of the program into a unity through surface articulation (roof) and pedestrian circulation (ramps). Ironically the ramp system imitates (intentionally?) the movement of automobiles, though in this case removing the person from their old car to await their new one.

[Google Earth link]

Garden Restaurant

Garden Restaurant

Garden Restaurant in Hanover, Germany by Architekten Schweger Partner, 2000.

The following text is contributed by Architekten Schweger Partner with images (click to enlarge) by Bernhard Kroll.

The garden restaurant at the "Herrenhäuser Gärten", which was awarded a 1st prize following a competition, was designed and built to meet the high aesthetic standards of the internationally known garden ensemble. Located on the grounds of the former kitchens by the fig gardens, the design for the new building adds to the existing visual relationship between the gallery, the atrium and the old Herrenhäuser street. The architectural idea is to manifest the theme of the hedgerows instead of making the new gastronomy appear like a building.

Shifting through greenish glazed glass translates the baroque theme of hedgerows into architecture. The idea of meandering through a baroque garden like a stage setting is developed with modern elements. Framed and steered views, a central theme in the baroque, have been adapted into the architecture.

In analogy to historic orangeries, the whole garden facade can be opened to let the park flow into the building during the summer. The idea of a stage setting with folded layers is being interpreted by the choice of materials. A variety of glass qualities, steel and wood, are used to play with the varying degrees of transparency of the baroque hedgerows.

The clear elegance of the interiors allows for both a leisurely cafe-like ambience during the day and a more formal restaurant atmosphere at nighttime.

Glossy glass facades, concrete surfaces for the ceilings and walls, swiss pear tree for the club room, Mucharzer sandstone for the floors and glass mosaic for the restrooms, are reminders of the different themes: orangery, grotto and main lounge.

There is a close relationship between light and architecture. Reflections formed on the different materials by natural light are creatively being transformed by artificial light. Light is used as a medium to enhance architectural ideas. The double-skin facade, which is entirely made of glass, is being illuminated from in between its layers. Hence, a varying game of color and light turns the fig garden into an attractive space for evening events.

[Google Earth link]

Metro Stops

Metro Stops

Metro Stops in Hanover, Germany by Despang Architekten, 2000.

The following text is excerpted from Phyllis Richardson's Big Ideas, Small Buildings, published in 2001 by Thames & Hudson, for Despang Architekten's Metro Stops in Hanover, Germany.

"Urban space is not always treated very kindly," says Martin Despang, whose firm won a competition to design thirteen tram platforms and waiting facilities for the new D-South urban-rail line in Hanover. In a "holistic approach" to the functional, technical and economic parameters, Despang created a system of vertical rectangular blocks that could be covered in a range of materials, and to which could be added the structure's individual "attire". [The architect] conceived different claddings and finishings in response to each facility's immediate surroundings.

At the Haltestelle and Freundallee [image on previous page] stops, for example, where brick is the neighborhood's prevailing building material, the structures are given dry-pressed brick facings. Other "waiting blocks" feature prepatinated copper (with the ensuing oxidation reflecting the natural evolution of nearby allotments), satin-finished glass blocks, larch strips and stainless-steel mesh and even the now-ubiquitous precast concrete.

To combat the unkind treatment such facilities must endure, Despang was proactive and preventive: all built-in elements, such as information windows, are fitted flush; finishes were treated with lab-tested coatings to protect against weather and graffiti; and the construction makes use of smooth, non-adhesive surfaces to defy would-be vandals. To the waiting passenger, however, the shelter Despang describes as "urban punctuation" present bold exclamation points of pleasant surprise.



LOOK UP in Gelsenkirchen, Germany by Anin + Jeromin + Fitilidis & Partner.

Based in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the young advertising agency LOOK UP looked to the Dusseldorf-based firm Anin + Jeromin + Fitilidis & Partner to design their headquarters near Essen. The simple, rectangular building, composed primarily of concrete and glass, was the second building completed in the industrial redevelopment area. Light and heavy, clear and opaque, the box fits into the industrial landscape while providing an identity for the ad agency.

The rectangular box is violated only by the entry stair, which connects the first two of the three office floors, and two cantilevered concrete balconies. Production spaces are contained on the ground floor, a heavy base with few punched openings in the poured-in-place concrete. "Creativity zones" are housed in the two upper floors, transparent behind large expanses of glass and a concrete brise-soleil on the short south facade.

Although a simple building, the headquarters has many dramatic features, primarily the entrance stair, a transparent box seemingly hung from the concrete wall, and the brise-soleil, which resembles a comb due to their cantilevered structure. Inside an open plan dominates, with simple, modular furniture a nice complement to the rectilinearity of the building and gridded mullions of the east elevation.

LOOK UP's headquarter signals a definitive trend in architecture and business: the reclamation and renovation of derelict industrial areas for service-oriented companies, which naturally follows the rise of the service sector. And Germany, with its large expanses of industrial land, is poised to be a leader in adaptive reuse of those areas.