Monday, August 20, 2012

Porsche Pavilion

Porsche Pavilion in Wolfsburg, Germany by HENN, 2012

The Autostadt is a theme park in Wolfsburg, Germany, that is focused on "people, cars and what moves them." The mobility-themed park, which is laid out around an artificial lagoon, features pavilions for Audi, Lamborghini, Volkswagen (the park is basically a communications platform for VW and its various brands), and now Porsche, whose arcing structure designed by HENN Architekten recently opened. The pavilion is located in the lagoon's southeast corner, and the design takes many cues from this location.

By locating itself right on the lagoon, the pavilion blends architecture and landscape (HENN worked with WES, the landscape architects responsible for the entire Autostadt plan); it defines the water's edge through curving terraced seats that provide seating for visitors. The pavilion proper is halfway along this arcing plan that alludes to the curves of a highway. The dramatic soaring roof shelters part of the seating and extends over the water; it cantilevers a full 25 meters (82 feet).

From above and other parts of the Autostadt, it appears that the project is solely focused on defining outdoor spaces, both the lagoon and the seating. But the tiered seating and arcing roof work together to respectively build up and enclose the interior space, an organic space served by an elliptical ramp from above. The light and soaring character of the exterior is eschewed in favor of a dark space (hg merz architekten museumsgestalter and jangled nerves developed the exhibition and staging concept), where the cars can stand out.

What links the building and its client the most is the complex curvilinear forms realized through construction similar to the automotive industry. HENN describes the stainless steel shell as "similar to the monocoque construction technology used for lightweight structures in automotive and aerospace industries, the building envelope forms a spatial enclosure whilst at the same time acting as a load-bearing structure." The structure as skin is a smooth surface that recalls the aerodynamic form of cars. Unlike most cars that tend to look alike in their generic bodies, the Porsche Pavilion is as unique and distinctive as the namesake sports cars.

Photographs © HG Esch