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Experimenta Heilbronn – Special recognition in architectural design, Solarlux Choice 2020

Design: Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin (Matthias Sauerbruch, Louisa Hutton, Juan Lucas Young)

Project managers: Andrew Kiel, Peter Apel;
Team: Jürgen Bartenschlag, Marc Broquetas Maduell, Stefan Fuhlrott, Falco Herrmann, Viviane Hülsmeier, Axel Ibarroule, Rémi Jalade, Nils Lindhorst, Patrick Mc Hugh, Felix Partzsch, Jimi Pazos Estevez, Tanja Reiche-Hoppe, Amalia Sanchez, Christian Seidel, Marina Stoynova, Markus Weber, Waldemar Wilwer
Client: Schwarz Real Estate GmbH & Co. KG
Photo credits: Jan Bitter

Description:

This emblematic building stands at the centre of Heilbronn, on an island in the River Neckar, near the area where the Bundesgartenschau 2019 took place. It is conceived as a helical sequence of spaces offering an experience that is finely choreographed between the interior of the building and the surrounding landscape. The new building forms an ensemble with a converted warehouse, framing a small piazza from where visitors enter the museum. Passing through the spacious foyer, they move upwards along the helix. This takes them through four levels containing themed exhibition spaces that focus on scientific and technological subjects. For young visitors there are interactive media installations, where they can apply what they have just learned to specific tasks. The themed sections on each floor are offset in horseshoe form around the core of the building and a full-height atrium, into which pods are inserted that contain interactive stations. Finally, the helix brings visitors out onto a landscaped roof terrace that offers a panorama of the entire Neckar Valley. Also located on the roof are an astronomical observatory and an auditorium for experimental theatre. An alternative route leads to the basement, where the 360° Science Dome cinema and spaces for temporary exhibitions are located. The Experimenta building is like a spatial tool for learning and understanding, whose architecture underlines the educational purpose of the science centre. The building itself functions as an illustrative object that demonstrates the overcoming of gravity, the reaction to sun and light, the protection against weather, heat and cold and finally the architectural space and its relationship to human scale. In its interior and exterior appearance, it reflects an experimental approach to space and construction. It stimulates scientific curiosity by directing the view out into the distance, while at the same time focusing the gaze inwards, right down to the microscopic scale. Thus, on multiple levels, the Experimenta presents an architecture that truly educates.