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Brave New Welt

The story of this BMW HQ began almost 10 years ago when the company decided to hold an architecture competition for a ‘brand experience and car delivery centre’. Christine Schaum reports for Indesign Magazine.

Brave New Welt


May 29th, 2008

Twenty-eight candidates were selected for a second round from over 270 entries. Finally, the jury placed Morphosis Architects third and Zaha Hadid Architects second. The two first prize awardees Coop Himmelb(l)au and Sauerbruch Hutton were invited to refine their concepts, placing emphasis on technical, economical and functional aspects. Coop Himmelb(l)au started to realise their winning design in 2001, and it was the talk of the town from the moment the spectacular scaffolding was put up until it was finally opened in October 2007.

Let’s start with its location, an area with an immense urban ‘icon density’. Olympic Park bends itself alongside the six-lane-wide city circle that is one of Munich’s main traffic veins, visible from afar thanks to its characteristic roof.

The BMW headquarters on the northern side of this road has always played a special role in the city. Near the large car manufacturing buildings, the BMW Four Cylinder tower proudly states where the brand is at home. Locally nicknamed “the bowl”, the adjacent BMW museum shell building (currently under restoration) houses the BMW permanent exhibition.

It was Viennese architect, Karl Schwanzer who built the Four Cylinder tower in the early 1970s and one of his students is none other than Wolfgang D. Prix. The building cycle, therefore, comes full circle in various ways – it’s not just the site, it’s also the presentation of a brand in its hometown and an entire urban master plan that has found their culmination.

To read the whole article, see Indesign Magazine Issue #33, in stores now. Christine Schaum is Indesign’s Munich correspondent.



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