After 30 years of intensive use, the Gasteig cultural centre in Munich in southern Germany is to undergo extensive renovation and remodelling. Following the international competition and tender process, HENN‘s proposal has been selected for the renovation project.
With around two million visitors annually, the Gasteig is the largest cultural centre in Europe. It was originally designed by the architecture partnership Raue, Rollenhagen, Lindemann and Grossmann and was opened in 1984/85. The modernisation of the Gasteig will provide Munich with a building that will be globally unique thanks to its wide range of cultural activities.
The design introduces a new architectural element in the form of a glazed bridge, connecting the existing parts of the building and bestowing a new transparency on the complex – an innovation that opens the Gasteig up to city, affords perspectives of the inner vibrancy of the building, and welcomes visitors and staff alike to be part of the city’s cultural life. This “Kulturbühne” (Cultural Stage) simultaneously acts as the leitmotif and generates the identity of the new Gasteig, whilst in design terms its transparent, glazed and open architecture stands in deliberate contrast to the monolithic and mineral-like character of the existing building.
Following the idea of “ONE” Gasteig, the new Culture Stage extends both horizontally and vertically as a spatial continuum through all the sections of the Gasteig. The Cultural Stage functions simultaneously as a circulation node, foyer, exhibition space and an event area. It provides both visitors and staff with clear orientations and short routes between all of the building’s functions. Regardless of its use, the Cultural Stage gives each element its own locational anchoring and individual identity, be it the Philharmonic, the Carl Orff Auditorium, the library or the Munich Volkshochschule (Centre of Further Education – MVHS).
In urban planning terms, the previous isolation of the Gasteig is countered by means of an inviting flight of steps. An emphasis is given to the gradient towards the River Isar, forming a spatial and logical continuation of the so-called “gache Steig” – the steep ascent from the Isar to the new Gasteig.
Once inside, two wide staircases, which are partly formed as seating podiums, lead up to the first upper storey – the centrepiece of the Cultural Stage. This is where all of the foyers to the large auditoria are located, together with the accompanying catering and bar areas, as well as the exhibition and event spaces.
A major factor in new proposal is that it meets a number of goals in synchrony: the Philharmonic is refurbished to create an optimal acoustic and spatial experience; the multifunctional Carl Orff Auditorium is re-designed to become the most flexible space in the Gasteig; the layout of the library transforms it into an open reading and studying landscape; and the MVHS – including its information and advice areas – is housed running along the length of the Cultural Stage. Finally, located above the Philharmonic, the new Ausblick restaurant forms the vertical conclusion of the Gasteig, offering its guests a panorama view stretching from the Allianz Arena, past the Frauenkirche and out to the Zugspitze.