Porsche Pavilion: A Confluence of Spatial Design and Structural Ingenuity by HENN Architekten

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Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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In 2012 the Autostadt in Wolfsburg received a new addition, the Porsche Pavilion; which has rendered a characteristic silhouette that has grown to be a striking icon within the theme park’s lagoon landscape. The brand new pavilion by HENN Architekten for the sports car manufacturer, Porshe, was designed as an organically shaped structure with a curved, softly gleaming roof construction that houses upto 400 sqm of exhibition and presentation spaces within.

Curving lines and exciting bends make the pavilion a dynamic yet reduced sculpture with its characteristics derived from the Porsche brand image. In the seamless building envelope the racy lines pick up speed, reduce their tempo again and send out additional radii. A matte finished stainless steel cladding forms the flush envelope of this vibrant structure, creating the impression of a homogeneous unity whilst creating a continuously changing appearance depending on light and weather conditions.

At its point of entry, the pavilion juts out for around 25 metres above the water surface of the lagoon. Under this large, asymmetrically shaped roof a sheltered external space opens up with seats for several hundred visitors. The roof optically connects the surrounding landscape and forms a secure acoustic enclosure. HENN set out to design an architecture and landscape; interior and exterior; roof and façade that were a homogenous and flowing continuum. Meanwhile, the exterior of the pavilion designed by WES Landscape Architects was integrated into the overall concept of the theme park.

Similar to the monocoque type construction used in lightweight construction in the automotive and aircraft industries, the space-forming building envelope assumes a supportive function. A total of 620 stainless steel sheets were welded together with reinforcing ribs, prefabricated in a shipyard in Stralsund and assembled on site.

Inside the pavilion a concentrated space opens out to provide a tangible experience of the Porsche sports car brand and its history. The elliptically curved ramp takes the fundamental dynamic principle of the architecture and leads visitors down to the presentation area. The exhibition and presentation concept designed by hg merz architekten museumsgestalter and jangled nerves combines the evolution, the engineering and the fascination of Porsche in one memorable image of pioneering tradition. The Original Porsche – a 356 No.1 built in 1948 – is the starting point for a swarm of 25 silver coloured vehicle models at the scale of 1:3, on show in the main exhibition area.

Tradition and innovation, performance and day-to-day-practicality, design and functionality, exclusiveness and social acceptance: these four antagonistic terms characterise Porsche’s values and philosophy. They are also picked up as themes in short films. A film about the company history, sound stories about selected Porsche models as well as tablet PCs with further information about the exhibited vehicles come together to create a unique experience out of the visit of the pavilion.

If you've been inspired by pavilion buildings, you won't want to miss our exclusive article on the captivating design of Tverrfjellhytta in Hjerkinn.

Project Information
Architect: HENN Architekten
Location: Wolfsburg, Germany
Client: Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG & Autostadt GmbH
Design Team: Prof. Dr. Gunter Henn, Martin Henn, Klaus Ransmayr Paul Langley
Structural Engineers: Schlaich Bergermann und Partner Prof. Dr. Mike Schlaich, Achim Bleicher, Thomas Schoknecht, Sebastian Linden
Quantity Surveying: Paul Lawrence Lars Becker, Wolfgang Malisius
Construction Management: Wolfgang Wrba, Siegfried Kruse, Hendrik Noack, Karl Rosebrock
Area: 1 400 sqm
Status: Completed, 2012
Photographs: HG Esch

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About the author

Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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