Mercedes Benz Museum
The new Mercedes-Benz Museum, located next to highway B14 at the entrance of Stuttgart, contains exhibition space for the historical collection of Mercedes-Benz, which consists of 160 cars, as well as a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and a sky lobby.
Visitors proceed through the museum from top to bottom. During the ride up the atrium, in one of the three elevators, visitors are shown a multimedia preshow presentation. The elevators are like capsules with only a large slit at eye-level through which the visitor sees images of the history of Mercedes-Benz projected on the walls of the atrium.
|The building twists and turns around you like a sculpture full of contrapposto; now you see things and people, now you don’t.|
|/Ben van Berkel|
From the starting point at the top, the +eight level, the visitor may take one of the two spiralling ramps down; the first chain-linking the connecting Legend rooms, which are the secondary displays related to the history of Mercedes-Benz, the second the collection of cars and trucks.
The two trajectories cross each other continuously, mimicking the interweaving strands of a DNA helix, and making it possible for visitors to change trajectories.
The two types of museum spaces have diametrically opposed characters. The Legend rooms are sheltered and artificially lit like theatrical spaces. Entering them is like entering a stage.
The Collection rooms are exposed and day-lit, surrounded by huge, panoramic windows. The two aspects of the collection, the cars and the trucks are organized thematically starting with the two oldest cars at the top floor in the display dedicated to the invention of the car.
The Legends are arranged in a chronological way. But this chronology is not rigid; the visitor is free to cross time zones. Wayfinding and orientation are intuitive and individual; the organisation offers a rational framework, which the visitor is free to follow or to deviate from when attracted by a specific display or program feature.
The structure of the Mercedes-Benz Museum is based on a trefoil. The cloverleaf structure mathematically consists of three overlapping circles, of which the centre becomes a void forming a triangular atrium The semi-circular floors rotate around the central atrium forming horizontal plateaus which alternate between double and single heights.
By using the strong design model we were able to organise ideas of infrastructure, exhibition spaces, programme and even structure. We looked at ideas of how, by moving through the chronologically ordered exhibition spaces from top to bottom, visitors follow the edge line of the building like a time machine. The line you follow becomes a wall then a ceiling and then a space, blurring the distinction between line, surface and volume.
|/Ben van Berkel|
UN Studio van Berkel & Bos were awarded First prize in the architectural competition in September, 2003