THE EXPERIMENTA

    SPECTACULAR
    ARCHITECTURE

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE EXISTING BUILDING

THE REINTREPRETATION OF THE FORMER STOREHOUSE

The striking former "Hagenbucher" oilseed storehouse from the 1930's is home to experimenta. The structure has a reinforced concrete framework skeleton and a bricked facade: while the interior spaces are distinguished by reinforced concrete columns and beams, the brick facade of the original building with typical industrial windows with glazing bars is characteristic of its outward appearance.

Thomas Bochmann

Architect, studioinges, Berlin
"The staggered arrangement in the existing structure of the original building and its extension makes the green wall a signet that can be seen over vast distances from the city. This interaction between the outer shell and a cross-section of the interior can be likened to the laconic image of a kiwi fruit that has been sliced in half."

The idea to set up a Science Center in the empty storehouse of the former "Hagenbucher" oilseed mill on the island in the Neckar river came up in 2005. The building is the only remaining remnant of the former industrial complex on the island near the historic part of Heilbronn.

The striking building dates from the 1930's and has a reinforced concrete framework skeleton and a bricked facade. While the interior spaces are distinguished by reinforced concrete columns and beams, the brick facade of the original building with its typical industrial windows with glazing bars is characteristic for its outward appearance.

The Berlin studioinges architects were the winners of the architects' competition. Their winning design combines the storehouse with a sleek new building. After 18 months of construction, the building opened in the fall of 2009 as "experimenta - Science Center der Region Heilbronn-Franken".

Historic industrial architecture newly interpreted

The 2009 addition adopts the materiality of the original building dating from 1936. As a "shared skin", the new addition was given the same brick facade as the existing storehouse. The free-standing impact of the structure on the Neckar island is emphasized and taken up in the construction.

A glass-clad joint materialized at the interface to the twin structure. It is there that the building reveals something of its interior in iridescent greens and yellows and opens up stimulating views into and out of the building. The illuminated colorful aluminum panels at the exterior point of intersection present an exciting contrast between the artificial interior and the natural red-brown brick of the exterior shell. A virtual sculpture is created, delineated by the main staircase that rises along the seam that passes through the green wall.

"The staggered arrangement in the existing structure of original building and its extension makes the green wall a signet that can be seen over vast distances from the city. This play between the outer shell and a cross-section of the interior can be likened to the laconic image of a kiwi fruit that was sliced in half.

The floors of the historic storehouse with its characteristic visible reinforced concrete framework skeleton were largely preserved and have until now been home to the exhibition.

The only major changes were made on the topmost floor where roof and supports were removed to accommodate a cube designed as a multi-purpose event hall with foyer lounge and rooftop terrace.

Changed use and redesign

After completion of the first plans to extend experimenta Heilbronn in and around the year 2012, planning for the renovation of the existing building followed, since the building space was to be dedicated to a different use in future. In the context of the new experimenta building, the existing structure will in future primarily house labs for course offerings as well as the experimenta administrative offices.

The 4th floor of the former storehouse will be modified to house a Student Research Center with research labs and workshops. A small section of the former exhibition space will also be set up as passages and break areas for the school labs in the addition. The event area on the 5th floor with its "cube", foyer lounge and rooftop terrace with views of the historic district will be left untouched. The bistro and former cloakroom area on the ground floor, however, will be consolidated and converted into an open-space creative workshop, a Maker Space with digital and analog workstations, video and audio workstations, lounge as well as a forum.

The distinctive design of the building's architecture will be preserved after the renovation. A more extensive modification will be made to the facade of the existing structure since many of the old industrial windows must be enlarged for the new use of the space as offices and labs. The green transparent corridor together with the previous entry foyer will continue to be the building's most striking architectural element.

The most spectacular and largest change, however, will be in the previous foyer: with the selection of the design concept by sauerbruch hutton from among the submissions to the architects' competition for the new building in 2013, a subterranean passage to the underground foyer of the new building was planned.

Text: Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Bochmann, studioinges, Berlin

THE NEW BUILDING

ARCHITECTURE AS EXPERIENCE SPACE

The spectacular new building at experimenta is instrument, stage and sculpture all at the same time. Its architecture - designed by sauerbruch hutton, Berlin - is guided by transparency, elegance and matter-of-fact poetry and continually surprises visitors.

Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch

Architect, sauerbruch hutton, Berlin
"Experimentation has also become an architectural principle. This is evidenced in the example seen in the design of the so-called studios. They are suspended in the middle of the spiral of the four room-sized glass bodies and are the glowing heart of this crystalline building. This construction stretches the limits of the possible."

Prominent Space-Spiral

Compared to the existing building, the Hagenbucher storehouse dating from 1936 (conversion 2008/09) with its precise brickwork architecture, the new building is a dynamic structure of glass and steel that focuses first and foremost on display and experience. The most prominent architectural element of this extension is the "Space-Spiral" which serves both as an entrance and meeting point and winds from the forecourt to the roof of the building and connects the various sections on all five levels.

A change in perspective

Along this path, there is more to see than just the exhibitions and the glass studios in the atrium. Through the windows of the spacious glass spiraling path, visitors can look out onto the surrounding cityscape and nature, the river basin of the Neckar, the historic district of Heilbronn, the surrounding vineyards and valleys, and ultimately, also the starry sky because the panoramic path ends at the observatory on the roof of the building. Along the rising spiral, visitors not only actively encounter scientific phenomena and technical principles with their applications, but also visually experience their specific everyday environment from new and changing perspectives.

The new building in this arrangement not only unfurls very graphically the network of relationships between "Man, Nature and Technology" literally in the eyes of the public, it is also an object in the exhibition. The alternating encountering of interactive offerings and specific situation, abstraction and perspective, concentration and relaxation are the special attraction of this intense experience.

Dynamic supporting structure

The concept of the building as a vehicle for exhibition and experience has resulted in a special kind of supporting structure that is apparent at first glance: conspicuous on the facades of the exhibition worlds are the large trussed beams surrounding the exhibition spaces behind them, yet the same construction seems almost missing in the Space-Spiral. The entire building stands on a central concrete core and only seven vertical piers on which the seemingly stacked trussed beams seem to be threaded. The ceilings of the large spiral are then suspended from the beams above by means of extremely narrow suspension supports. This produces a dynamic alternating of trusses and supports with large spans and bold cantilevers which repeatedly presents itself to visitors on their way through the building. The construction is clearly visible and appears as a large fabric of forces evident in the material which plays with the kinetic space of the spiral in a dynamic balance. Special spaces are the studios suspended in the center of the spiral as room-sized glass bodies and are the glowing heart of this crystalline structure.

In addition to the expressive supporting structure, it is the pentagonal ichnography that emerges from the land itself that gives this building its characteristic form. The pentagons are repeated even down to the micro-scale of various surfaces and exhibition objects.

An exception is the cupola space of the Science Dome that is buried in the earth to harmoniously integrate its vast volume in the total composition of the installation. Its form has developed entirely from its function as the 360 degree dome theater.

The spectacular new building for experimenta is instrument, stage and sculpture all at the same time. It is meant to convey the joy of experimentation, the thirst for knowledge and innovation. Its architecture is guided by transparency, elegance and matter-of-fact poetry and continually amazes visitors.

Text: Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch, Architect, Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin