A COMING TOGETHER
Edges and flowing lines, wood and stainless steel, tradition and innovation, light and dark: the architecture of the PANEUM comes alive through its combination of opposites and draws its dynamism and fascination from its contrasts.
Visitors can’t help but wonder… What is it? A cloud, shimmering in the sunlight? A silver mound of dough? Or perhaps something completely different?
What is certain is that the PANEUM is also an architectural journey of discovery and bears the signature of Wolf D. Prix, CEO of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, one of the most renowned architectural offices in the world. Already at the first meeting between the architect and the client, backaldrin owner Peter Augendopler, there was a sketch of a box that would form the foundation of the building, and in which the customer information centre and event forum for up to 120 guests would be housed – everything, except the Wunderkammer itself. Also part of the original idea, this is accessed via a spiral, cantilevered staircase.
The spiral staircase creates an atrium, which can be used in vertical displays, not unlike a chandelier or a gigantic wind chime. Prix attributes Milanese artist Maurizio Cattelan, who did the same at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The staircase leads up into the freeform part of the building, which is itself a combination of opposites. It not only contrasts with the rectangular part of the building, made of concrete – the box – but also creates a fascinating distinction between the interior and the exterior of the building. While over 3,000 stainless steel shingles on the outside shine silver in the sun, the wooden structure of the building is visible on the inside. Curved lines allow the visitor – in the truest sense of the word – to circle all areas of the exhibition.
Building Site in Numbers
Cloud or Noah’s Ark?
At the same time, this freeform part raises the initial questions: What is it actually? What does it represent? The answer is given by the creator himself: “It is not a cloud, but rather a cloud ship,” explains Prof. Prix. This idea also came to him in conversation with the client: “Peter Augendopler’s passionate portrayal reminded me of a type of Noah’s Ark, intended to save valuable objects for another world,” explains the architect.
Looking at the sketch from the first meeting between Prix and Augendopler, one immediately recognises the present building, which is certainly not to say that all the work was done according to the sketch. On the contrary: “From a sketch to a building is a long way,” the architect emphasises. This is especially true when it is the first wooden building in free form to be meticulously planned by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. Planning and execution were coordinated with each other or, as Design Principal Prix says: “We plan in 3D, so the design must also be in 3D.” Simply put: with the help of 3D CNC technology, the freestanding cloud ship consists of prefabricated, interlocked wooden components with millimetre precision. Reminiscent of a giant Lego game, this technique guarantees building efficiency, shorter construction times and a fascinating result. It is a step into the future of construction; as Prix says, “3D plotting, 3D milling and building with robots – that is the future of building.”
The structure in Upper Austrian Asten also clearly shows the difference between building and architecture. “Architecture,” says Wolf D. Prix, “affects one on a meta-level.” Even a layman knows that architecture stirs the emotions. This is no different at the PANEUM – it touches one through architecture, the collection and presentation alike.
IDEA AND ARCHITECTURE
Wolf D. Prix and Peter Augendopler talk about the PANEUM and his genesis