No. 301 . 30 August 2006 
ArchitectureWeek
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Mercedes-Benz Building

by Lisa Ashmore

With the bulging prow of its aluminum and glass skeleton looming beside the fast lanes of Highway B14 in Stuttgart, Germany, the new Mercedes-Benz Museum lives up to the German automaker's refined engineering image. On entering the structure designed by the Dutch firm UN Studio, visitors ascend eight stories to the top, then wind down twin ramps through a collection of 160 vehicles displayed over 178,000 square feet (16,500 square meters) of exhibition space.

During the brief ascent in one of three bullet-shaped elevators, one's mind and retina are given a preview, through an eye-level slit, of images of Mercedes products projected on the walls of the trefoil atrium.

Once released, visitors may choose either to examine the theatrical interiors and lobes of the "legend rooms" or head down the bright, daylit path through the "collection rooms" displaying the cars' more straightforward 120-year history.

The dominant form of the interior is a "double-helix" achieved by two ramps that spiral separately down around the large space, descending through the stage-like legend and collection rooms, illuminated by panoramic windows. As the two spirals intertwine, they offer glimpses across to the other side and the opportunity for visitors to pass from one to the other.

As UN Studio has done elsewhere (including the 1998 Möbius House in Het Gooi) the result is a sloping, continuous, nearly Möbius Strip effect.   >>>

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