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Phaeno Science Centre

Zaha Hadid Architects

Originally created to house the workers of Volkswagen Works, and once called “Stadt des KdF-Wagens”, the city of Wolfsburg is a typical example of planned urban development driven by the economic impetus of a thriving automotive industry. Still closely connected to the company, Wolfsburg’s cultural identity today is geared to integrating different cultures and providing state-of-the-art services and leisure amenities.
The urban axis that departs from the castle of Klieversberg is punctuated by important buildings by Alvar Aalto, Hans Sharoun, and Peter Schweger, vividly illustrating successive urban-planning developments. EXPO 2000,  held in nearby Hannover just to the north, led Volkswagen to create another landmark building, the “Autostadt”, a compact thematic area at its Wolfsburg headquarters to show the company’s entire range of cars.
Today, the new city bridge blurs the former divide between factory and city, and calls for an urban counterweight on the station square. This will be the new Phaeno Science Centre. Zaha Hadid’s prize-winning design with its elevated, 6.5 m exhibition floor, creates an urban landmark that dialogues directly with the city centre. Set on a newly landscaped site on a major intersection, as well as the museum, the building will also headquarter several public functions, thus making it a key regional focus. In keeping with its innovative architecture, the centre departs from traditional museum configurations with its interactive information systems.
The Phaeno Science Centre is a deliberately mysterious object arousing curiosity and a sense of discovery. There is, however, an inherent order to the complexity and strangeness that greet visitors. The sweeping scale of the exterior setting continues into the interior where an extensive, “porous” visual axis dispels any sense of being surrounded by a massive, enclosed volume.
The volumetric structural logic is highly unusual. Floors are not stacked one on top of the...

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