The Mercedes-Benz Museum is home to the history of mobility and the brand that extends from 1886 all the way to the future. The building’s architecture also ties in accordingly as it resembles a double helix just like the DNA in which the human genome is stored. This design cue visually draws attention to the company’s spirited history.
Everything at the Mercedes-Benz Museum is also in flux: with no closed rooms or straight walls. Ceilings span 33 metres without any supports, and each of the 1,800 triangular glass panes is unique.
Icon of style: the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Almost weightless: the Mercedes-Benz Museum outside the gates of the main plant in Untertürkheim.
The museum is located outside the gates of the main Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and represents a distinctive landmark in the area as an architectural beacon. It seems to perch atop a hill – which is, in fact, man-made.
Owing to its graceful lines, the 110,000-tonne building almost seems to defy the laws of gravity, particularly in the soft light of dusk.
In 2002, architectural firm UNStudio founded by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos in Amsterdam won the design competition for the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Architectural firm UNStudio founded by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos designed the building with its unique structure and captivating exterior. In his initial sketch, van Berkel outlined a seemingly basic geometric figure consisting of several loops turning endlessly back into themselves.
Exhibition designer HG Merz fleshed out the concept in close collaboration with the then DaimlerChrysler AG – from the tendering phase through to detailed planning of the museum’s look and feel. Museum planning is one of the architect’s specialities.
The museum’s shell consists of materials which are also used in the automotive industry – aluminium and glass.
Polished aluminium sheet metal that emits a bright shine in the sun weaves in and out of the structure. The contrasting darker bands of window panes mysteriously lure you to what is awaiting inside during the day – and cast a welcoming glow at night.
The design of the façade hints at the layout of the exhibition area, which is spread out over nine floors and is accessed via two walkways.
The Legend rooms with their intense ambience extend toward the interior of the building, are almost twice as tall as the Collection rooms and take you on a journey through time – from the invention of the car all the way to the future of mobility.
The Collection rooms in the second tour open up the museum with its expansive window panes to the surrounding Stuttgart area, including the Neckar Valley, the curvy lines of which visually correspond with the organic design language of the building.
The staircase joining two Collection rooms extends along the inside of the façade. (Museum designer: HG Merz)
Stairs interconnect the Collection rooms, and gracefully extend along the inside of the façade, while ramps lead visitors through the Legend rooms and offer spectacular perspectives of the exhibition as you enter a new room.
There are almost no right angles to be found anywhere in the Mercedes-Benz Museum as nearly every wall, ceiling, ramp and support is arched or turned and transitions to the next element in a soft, flowing manner. This is made possible by so-called twists, or component parts which incorporate two turns and are the most spectacular innovation of the building.
The twists emerge from the lift shafts as a vertical wall, and then, leaning on the next lift shaft, spiral outwards in a gentle sweep. As such, the architecture of the museum does not draw strict lines between horizontal and vertical surfaces, thereby lending a sense of dynamism.
During the construction phase: a twist in reinforced concrete shown as a prototype near the later construction site of the museum.
Inspired by legendary racetracks: the steep curve found in Legend room 7 of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. (Museum designer: HG Merz)
The transition between the horizontal and vertical can also be found in the geometry of Legend room 7: Silver Arrows – Races and Records. The centrepiece of the room is the steep curve, which serves as an exhibition platform for legendary Mercedes-Benz racing cars. It is among the highlights of the museum concept devised by HG Merz and harkens back to legendary racetracks.
Numerous prizes and awards underscore the unique architecture of the Mercedes-Benz Museum and include the 2009 Hugo Häring Award for outstanding buildings in Baden-Württemberg.