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BMW Welt: the world according to BMW

BMW Welt: the world according to BMW

Georges Rouzeau - 2007-12-01

Built by Viennese firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, BMW Welt is a building where architectural audacity is at the service of the marque’s values: speed, dynamism and elegance.

With BMW Welt in Munich, Germany’s car manufacturing world has just gained another remarkable building, designed by Wolf D. Prix of Viennese firm Coop Himmelb(l)au. As high as the Pantheon in Rome, with a roof as big as Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, this avant-garde building collects superlatives. For €457, you can come here to take possession of your vehicle, whether you are Polish, British or American.
 
Its entrance, consisting of two giant cones placed tip to tip, its reflective façade made of glass and steel, and its undulating roof all have a theme. The aim, as Professor Wolf D. Prix explains, was to “build” speed, “give substance to wind”, capture the blue sky and its clouds. Speed, dynamism, elegance: all values that BMW cars lay claim to.
 
The architect’s other point of reference was quite simply the Acropolis in Athens. Like this leading monument in the history of humanity, BMW Welt will be a temple, icon, and forum all at once – a covered space that is not just about selling cars, but also exchanging ideas. Open to all, this public building is not merely an empty husk for the delivery of cars: it is also an information centre, theatre, concert hall, children’s area, restaurant and bar. Its cost, which remains a secret, is thought to be around 250 million euros.
 
So BMW Welt is the latest in a line of architectural extravagances commissioned by German car manufacturers. Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsburg was the first. We should also mention the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, the offices of the BMW plant in Leipzig designed by Zaha Hadid, and the forthcoming Porsche Museum, also in Stuttgart. These luxurious buildings bear witness to the fierce competition between premium manufacturers in terms of image.
 
Along with the parent factory and headquarters (the famous Four Cylinders), and before the 2008 reopening of the BMW Museum (200,000 visitors a year), BMW Welt completes an impressive tourist-economy device. So it’s no surprise that the manufacturer is much courted by Munich city council and the Bavarian region. Located ten minutes away from the city centre, BMW Welt will make it possible to revitalise the Olympic Games site, which is just opposite. Many tour operators already include a tour of Coop Himme(l)blau’s new creation in their programme. Nonetheless, one cannot forget its aim: to sell cars.
 
 
BMW Welt
Am Olympiapark 1
D-80809
 
Access: underground (U-Bahn) lines U4/5: to Odeonpsplatz, then line U3 to the Olympiazentrum terminus.
From the city centre: line U3 to the Olympiazentrum terminus.
Open 9am-7pm (except restaurant, 11am-midnight).
 

Built by Viennese firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, BMW Welt is a building where architectural audacity is at the service of the marque’s values: speed, dynamism and elegance.

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