Phaeno Science Center
Located in the center of Wolfsburg, the Science Center is both the endpoint of a chain of cultural buildings by Aalto, Scharoun and Schweger, and a connecting link to the north bank of the Mittelland Kanal.
The main volume of the building, raised high above the ground on a series of concrete cones, maintains a large degree of transparent porosity on the ground.
To create an urban field on the ground, with an object above, was a rare opportunity for us.
— Zaha Hadid
The area beneath it becomes a new kind of urban space, a covered artificial landscape with gently undulating hills and valleys extending out into the surrounding area.
Functional spaces like the museum entrance — where an escalator takes visitors to the main level — the bookstore, and a theater are located in the concrete cones.
Multiple threads of pedestrian and vehicular movement are pulled through the site, both through the artificial ground landscape and within the building, composing an interface of movement-paths. This constructional interweaving creates a uniquely close bond between the city and the building.
A glazed wormhole-like extension of the existing bridge flows through the building, allowing views to and from the exhibition space.
In the main gallery space, Hadid has created an artificial crater-like landscape, allowing diagonal views through the different levels of the exhibition-scape, while protruding volumes accommodate other functions. The cones become craters, creating a link between the exterior and the mysterious dynamic landscape within.
The objective of Phaeno is to open up new approaches to the world of natural science and technology, to reawaken the desire for making discoveries of one’s own. The architecture involves the visitors, immediately absorbing them into an almost vibrating interior, which again and again creates surprising perspectives and unexpected relationships.
As of 2012, Phaeno was the largest building constructed from “self-compacting concrete” (SCC) in Europe. Without this new type of concrete, the diverse forms of Phaeno would have been difficult to achieve.