Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects design new science discovery centre in Wolfsburg
Big science, like big architecture, at first involves rigorous research, informed experimentation, large portions of play, chance, intuition, patience and talent - all of which serve to inspire discoveries that in turn require rigorous research, informed experimentation, large portions of play, chance, intuition,
patience and talent - all of which serve to inspire functional applications that, at last, clearly demonstrate great wisdom, intelligence, courage, skill, an innate sense of scale and proportion and above all an extraordinary imagination.
Big science, like big architecture, among many other things; enriches the human condition; mediates between man and nature; symbolises the soul of a culture; materialises thought; rationalises
theory; serves future generations; has profound environmental consequences and establishes synthetic conditions through the sponsorship of coexisting factual differences.
To make architecture that is of the subject of science, to be built in a place made historic on the foundation of a modern industrial fantasy, demands a synthesis of mythic proportions. It is the architects' hope that their
design for the Science Center Wolfsburg is 'Big Architecture Like Big Science', that it combines experimental work with the mentality of play, that its form eludes definition but inspires belief, that its experience, like
education, is enduring.
What the architects know is that the building is large and that it is of the fantastic. It is so for two practical reasons: firstly, the site is an entangled gateway mediating between the scale of a small city, an industrial complex of
international proportions and a transportation mode linking the city to the region, the continent and the world. Secondly, the subject of science must at once be considered at the scale of the molecule and the universe.
It is infinite. It requires the suspension of judgment, a simultaneous removal from reality and a hypersensitized
belief in the discovery of truth.
What the architects also know is that the architecture will be ever changing with the atmosphere and the climatic effects, as well as with the direction and speed of approach, that the science center will fascinate and
captivate the imagination and that as an object of interest it will be a clue to the curious wonders of the
The ride up the inclined lift, snaking through the tendrils, the jungle of supports, is enough to warrant a visit and perhaps a souvenir. Discovering how the lift works, how the center actually stands
up, how the center is heated and cooled, and how it captures the wind and lightning may even become a
part of the visit. A small introduction to the world of science and invention, a big discovery of the City of
The view from the bistro is one of braided tendrils, the street below, the Autostadt and the sky.