If you ever visit Stuttgart, you cannot miss this unique journey of going through the history of one of the leading companies in the car industry, Mercedes Benz. It is the home to the Mercedes-Benz brand and the Mercedes-Benz Group international headquarters. The Mercedes Benz museum narrates the story of Mercedes Benz by addressing the context, popular culture, social norms, and technology. Mercedes-Benz Museum was designed by the Dutch architects of UN Studio, who are committed to promoting sustainable design and directing architecture towards a greener and cleverer environment. The building is one of the revolutionary yet modern designs worth visiting. UN Studio was able to balance the modernity of Mercedes’s brand identity and its futuristic vision with the simplicity and locality of the building in its urban context.
Context | Mercedes-Benz Museum
Ten Kilometers south of the Porsche Museum, they decided to place their work of art featuring more than 160 vehicles at the home of Mercedes Benz. The museum was completed and opened in 2006. It displays a wide range of the oldest models, racing cars, and the most futuristic inventions of Mercedes Benz. It covers 16,500 square meters in 12 rooms where visitors take one of either tours, Legend or Collection. The context influenced the museum geometry by taking the cloverleaf shape as an inspiration. Smooth curves shape the whole building, echoing the rounded vernacular of the nearby industrial and event spaces, such as a soccer stadium and the road system on the site. The urban design of the building is also open to the public to compliment the adjacent spaces around as an amphitheater, green areas, and open spaces following the same morphology of the museum.
The building has different platforms representing the trefoil leaves, all attached to the atrium, which is the stem to hold the whole system. The triangular atrium recalls the shape of the Wankel engine, one of the oldest internal combustion engines by rotary design, used in cars. The Mercedes Benz Museum combines the structure with its interior as the form was motivated by the shape of the DNA spiral carrying the human genetic code. Therefore, the space hosts two separate journeys in a double helix interior that are independent yet mergeable at specific points in interesting spiral routes. The two circular ascending ramps wove around a triangular atrium offering visitors a change in perspective, alternating between open and enclosed exhibition spaces. Also, they use all interior surfaces for exhibits, hanging from the ceiling, cars fixed on the walls, and a display of the car’s history as people go down in chronological order. This constellation creates different look-through atmospheres, shortcuts, and optional continuity or cross-references in the various displays.
Philosophy | Mercedes-Benz Museum
Ben van Berkel, joint founder and director of UN Studio, wanted to create a new typology that suits the design philosophy of Mercedes Benz. This philosophy does not apply only in the form and exterior facade but also in the interior and the way people experience the showroom. Consequently, Berkel decided to give people remarkable tours as they start from top to bottom. Visitors enter the building and ride up the atrium to a multimedia space for a pre-show presentation. Finally, they go down to the central piece. It is the oldest car Mercedes Benz created where you can feel that you got back in time. UN Studio intended to portray in the exhibits all the life values Mercedes Benz applies in their designs, neatness, sophistication, minimalism, and efficiency. Many designs afterward tried the museum’s concept, but they turned out to be cliché and did not serve the same purpose.
Structure and Material
Such a massive structure made of concrete was a challenge for UN Studio. The circular ramps stand on a load-bearing system with space trusses between floors spanning 100 feet without the need to have any intermediate columns. Nevertheless, the choice of having exposed concrete interior spaces was to act as a perfect background for the exhibited cars. The high contrast between the matt, slightly dark backdrop and the shiny glow of the cars represent the ideal visual experience for the visitors. Besides, the space truss is also left visible in the interior spaces so visitors can feel the different light modes.
Exhibits | Mercedes-Benz Museum
A collection of cars and trucks are displayed on five plateaus. As people go downward, they walk through the Myths, Races, Records, and Fascination with Technology. On the ground floor, the Children’s Museum, with small shops and a restaurant, opens in a vast space connecting the museum to the nearby Vehicle Center. The museum also provides audio tours so people can simultaneously learn, look and enjoy the exhibits.
Lastly, the museum is the city’s landmark that celebrates Stuttgart‘s pride for its leading role in manufacturing and technology by hosting one of the world’s most innovative and famous car brands, Mercedes Benz.
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