Architizer is pleased to partner with Cadillac as we present the winners of the 2014 A+ Awards. This series celebrates cutting-edge architects who are constantly asking “What If?” Just as the first ever ELR combines extended range electric vehicle technology with luxury car features such as adaptive suspension, four separate driving modes, and active noise cancellation to provide a driving experience unlike any other, these forward-thinking architectural designs push the boundaries of the contemporary museum experience. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look inside the cultural institutions that are using engineering to drive enlightenment.
Architects rearrange spaces and reorganize our lives, but they couldn't do it without using cutting-edge technologies and feats of engineering. Today, digital design and fabrication, miniaturized systems, extreme structural capabilities, and mobile technologies are just a few of the ways that engineering and technology are pushing design forward. This implementation ranges from the very obvious, such as facades that light up and respond to our presence, to the completely invisible, such as hyper-efficient, healthy and sustainable climate control systems.
With agile engineering, architects make galleries more spectacular, museums more sustainable, and exhibitions more visitor-friendly. These are destination art institutions for the tourist seeking not just art, but memorable adventures that expand their knowledge base. Below, we take you through five museums that use groundbreaking engineering and technological techniques to elevate the museum experience.
The Shanghai Museum of Glass (SHMOG) is adapted from a former glass bottle factory and warehouse — fitting, as the institution is intended to showcase the endless possibilities of glass. Visitors get an insider view of the making of glass artworks, as illustrated by a collection of both ancient and contemporary pieces.
The building is an extension of glass' marriage of technology and beauty, as LEDs light up the facade. Special U-shaped glass panels imported from Germany, sand blasted and enameled, are illuminated by LED backlights on the facade to make multi-language glass-related words glow, captivating visitors' imaginations and providing them with a one-of-a kind visual extravaganza.
Similar to the SHMOG, the Danish National Maritime Museum expresses engineering force, but in this case, it is not about the technology of glass. It's about the national pride of Danish seafaring. Behind the walls of a now-dry dock are a network of galleries, and a series of walkways connects them via an innovative wayfinding system. Special care was used to bury the building in the dry dock, so as not to disturb views of the nearby castle.
Rambøll Denmark A/S did the engineering on the museum, and Partner-in-Charge David Zahle explains, "Building a museum below sea level has taken construction techniques never used in Denmark before. The old concrete dock with its 1.5 m thick walls and 2.5 m thick floor has been cut open and reassembled, and the steel bridges were produced in giant sections on a Chinese steel wharf and transported to Denmark on the biggest ship that has ever docked in Helsingør. The steel sections weigh up to 100 tons apiece and are lifted on site by the two largest mobile cranes in northern Europe."
Advanced computer modeling made the form of this building possible, as the faceted facade takes the shape of a highly complex geometry. This surface, made of fine metallic mesh, twists and turns around a public plaza, expressing its digital process of creation. The building was not only made with cutting-edge technology; it is cutting-edge technology in and of itself. The facade is embedded with interactive wiring that monitors the flows of information on the site, and projects the data into light images called "Electronic Shadow." This information includes the weather, connections to the institution's website, to any capturable flow of real-time information. The artistic intervention becomes a public interface for the museum, and technology and museum are united.
The facade of this ceramics building is made of terracotta and acts as a solar and rain screen. While the first three projects express their technological prowess, the McGee Pavilion maximizes the energy performance of the building, which is not always so visible. The building is designed with controlled day lighting in the galleries, TPO roofing, low-consumption water fixtures and high-efficiency heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems — including radiant heating, in the exposed concrete floors of the studios and exhibition space. These active and passive technologies make the building not only a responsible and "sustainable" structure, but also highly enjoyable to occupy.
Museum of Art by Staab Architekten, Ahrenshoop, Germany
The design of this art musuem in Ahrenshoop, Germany was inspired by the thatched, irregular farmstead buildings of the area. A high-tech adaptation of the structures used material engineering as a departure point and evolved into these metallic huts. The metal envelope is made using a special copper alloy, TECU brass, manufactured by KME Germany. The material was bent using MN Metallverarbeitung Neustadt's Welltec process that allows the edges to be bent in previously inconceivable ways. Beyond the sculptural qualities of the cladding, it will also exhibit color changes similar to that of a thatched cladding as a result of oxidation, from green-brown to grey-brown to dark brown.