DRIVEN BY DESIGN

The museums of Porsche, BMW and Mercedes Benz are as dynamic as the cars they display.

In 1953, an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened with a 1952 Porsche 1500 Super on display. Since then, the German manufacturer’s cars have rightly assumed the status of works of art, and it’s therefore unsurprising that the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is an architectural marvel in its own right.

Located at Porsche’s birthplace in the Zuffenhausen district in Stuttgart’s northern suburbs, the museum opened to the public in January 2009. The tender to design the building had been won four years earlier by Viennese architects Delugan Meissl, who beat off strong competition from a field of 170 bidders. And it’s easy to see why they won: their completed design is as bold as the brand it represents. The main structure of the museum, which is supported on three V-shaped columns, appears to float above the ground.

“The building translates the dynamic nature of the Porsche brand into architecture,” says museum director Achim Stejskal. “From everyangle, the shapes of the monolith and base building look different, thanks to their polygonal, avant-garde forms and the variation in the structures and windows.”

The Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen is an architectural highlight...

...from the outside as well as the inside.

More than just a delight for the eye, the museum is designed to allow visitors the freedom to explore the exhibits however they wish. “The museum is not only for car enthusiasts and petrolheads – it’s for everyone,” says Stejskal. “A conscious decision was taken to avoid the ‘discovery zone’ approach, with all its showiness. The sports cars should be allowed to speak for themselves. There is no prescribed path, so access for everyone is guaranteed.” The museum has been constantly evolving since it opened, adding an interactive touchwall, Sound Showers and free Wi-Fi.

However, there’s one exhibit no visitor should miss: Stejskal’s personal favourite. “The 904 – the best looking Porsche sports car ever!” he says. “It was developed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the guy who designed the 911. The model of the 904 that we have at the museum was released in 1965 and has a smaller front; it’s also one of the first Porsches to have a plastic body.”

Of course, Germany is spoilt for choice when it comes to world class automobile museums. Just nine kilometres south-east of the Porsche residence in Stuttgart is the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Opened in May 2006, it was designed by the Dutch architects UNStudio and was inspired by the shape of a car engine. On the other side of the country in Munich is the BMW museum, which was designed by the Viennese architect Karl Schwanzer in 1973 and is known for its distinctive ‘white cauldron’ shape. It was renovated and reopened in 2008. Time spent wandering the halls of any of these buildings can’t help but reinforce the peerless quality of German design. Forget galleries – if you’re in Germany and looking for modern art, head to a car museum.

Shunning the ‘discovery zone’ approach, the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen puts the company’s elegant sports cars – and carriages – on centre stage.

OPENING HOURS

TUE – SUN, 9:00 – 18:00

Porscheplatz 1, 70435 Stuttgart

www.porsche.com

BMW Museum

More than 90 years of BMW’s history are presented here in seven houses: Design, Company, Motorcycle, Tech- nology, Motor Sport, Brand and the Series. Each of them provides a detailed overview of a particular aspect of the BMW heritage and illustrates the process of a car creation from its conception to its promotion. The museum itself is an architectural master- piece built with highest attention to detail.
Designed by Wolf D. Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au its bathrooms feature GROHE Eurostyle E faucets which match the museum’s overall clean design perfectly.

OPENING HOURS

TUE – SUN, 10:00 – 18:00

Am Olympiapark 2, 80809 Munich

www.bmw-welt.com

Mercedes-Benz Museum

With more than 160 vehicles and 1,500 exhibits across nine floors, the museum illustrates the development of Mercedes-Benz as well as the car industry in general during the last 125 years. Audio tours are free, and there’s also the chance to glimpse behind the scenes and see one of Mercedes’ factory floors where they manufacture many of their engines. And just like its Porsche counterpart, the Mercedes Benz museum’s bathrooms are also fitted with GROHE Rapid SL – allowing the users to save water by flushing with a reduced water volume.

OPENING HOURS

TUE – SUN, 9:00 – 18:00

Mercedesstraße 100, 70372 Stuttgart

www.mercedes-benz.com