Wolfsburg Science Center Invited Competition

Project Description

Big Science Like Big Architecture, at first involves rigorous research, informed experimentation, large portions of play, chance, intuition, patience and talent . . . all of which serve to inspire discoveries that in turn . . . require rigorous research, informed experimentation, large portions of play, chance, intuition, patience and talent . . . all of which serve to inspire functional applications that . . . at last clearly demonstrate great wisdom, intelligence, courage, skill, an innate sense of scale and proportion and above all an extraordinary imagination.

Big Science Like Big Architecture among many other things: enriches the human condition . . . mediates between man and nature . . . symbolizes the soul of a culture . . . materializes thought . . . rationalizes theory . . . serves future generations . . . has profound environmental consequences . . . and establishes synthetic conditions through the sponsorship of coexisting factual differences.

To make an architecture that is of the subject of science, to be built in a place made historic on the foundation of a modern industrial fantasy, demands a synthesis of mythic proportions. It is our hope that our design for the Science Center Wolfsburg is Big Architecture Like Big Science, that it combines experimental work with the mentality of play, that its form eludes definition but inspires belief, that its experience, like education, is enduring.

What we know is that the building is large and that it is of the fantastic. It is so for two practical reasons: (1) the site is an entangled gateway mediating between the scale of a small city, an industrial complex of international proportions and a transportation mode linking the city to the region, to the continent, to the world; (2) the subject of science must at once be considered at the scale of the molecule and the universe. It is infinite. It requires the suspension of judgment, a simultaneous removal from reality and a hyper-sensitized belief in the discovery of truth.

What we also know is that the architecture will be ever changing with the atmosphere and the climatic effects, as well as with the direction and speed of approach; that the science center will fascinate and captivate the imagination; and that as an object of interest it will be a clue to the curious wonders of the science within. The ride up the inclined lift, snaking through the tendrils, the jungle of supports, is enough to warrant a visit . . . and perhaps a souvenir. Discovering how the lift works, how the center actually stands up, how the center is heated and cooled, and how it captures the wind and lightning may even become a part of the visit. A small introduction to the world of science and invention. A big discovery of the City of Wolfsburg.

The view from the bistro is one of braided tendrils, the street below, the Autostadt, and the sky.



Project Origins


Project Information

project: an invited competition for a science center, museum and bistro
client: City of Wolfsburg
location: Wolfsburg, Germany
competition date: winter 1999
building area: 120,000 square foot interior; 34,000 square foot exterior garden; 4,000 square foot bistro and 420 parking spaces
construction budget: $33 million