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BMW Welt
BMW World
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Actually. And Always
"I wish the wind at least had a body. But everything that embitters us human beings most and hurts us to the greatest extreme is body-less – but it is only body-less when you seek to grab it, not when it grabs you...“
(From Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

HAMLET: Do you see the cloud over there, almost like a camel?
POLONIUS: Heavens above, it really looks like a camel!
HAMLET: I think it looks like a weasel.
POLONIUS: It has a back like a weasel.
HAMLET: Or like a whale?
POLONIUS: Yes, just like a whale.
(From Hamlet by William Shakespeare, second scene, A Hall in the Castle)

Actually we always wanted to build cloud architecture and cities changing like a field of clouds. Indeed, I see the statement made by Herman Melville in Moby Dick: "I wish the wind had a body" as the best description of architecture. It was back then in 1968 when we sought to change architecture now, immediately, and with a radical impact.

Having become more patient though experience in life, we have realised in the meantime that back then, expecting everything to happen "immediately", we over- or, you might say, under-estimated politics, the people we worked for, and the dominating concept of aesthetics in design. That was back then.

A strategy of small steps has always been alien to me – against my personal nature – and still is today. I tend to think of moving "step-by-step" with seven-mile boots.
"I wish the wind had a body“: Dynamic forces as the space for creating paradigms and changing a construction from static to dynamic…Today everything is conceivable – and presenting bold architecture in colourful announcements is simple. But what is radical is to raise such images from simple one-dimensional presentation and to implement them in three dimensions. For today radical architecture is only really radical if it is actually built and becomes reality … that's what sets us apart from the past.

The play of dynamic forces in nature has always been a stimulus and sometimes even a role model for us in our work, liberating space (architecture) from gravity, since architecture, as we already see in gothic cathedrals, is the dream of hovering in space free of gravity. Bigger than life.

Building with air in the ‘60s enabled us to conceive large spaces free of pillars and columns for a style of architecture changing like the clouds.

But it was only the development of a new drafting method which allowed us to study a new form of space by way of drawings and models and establish a new three-dimensional language with the computer, our new tool, that provided the option to develop new shapes and new structures for hybrid spaces. The contest for the BMW Welt then gave us the opportunity to verify these ideas in the wind tunnel of reality and, finally, to implement them in practice.
You might compare the development of the BMW Welt project from the initial concept all the way to final implementation with a complex puzzle in space: Maintaining consistent, ongoing feedback with BMW AG as our principal, we have created a building one can also experience as a condensed rendition of the centre of town.
The design concept provides for a hybrid building representing a mixture of urban elements. Not an exhibition hall, not an information and communication centre, not a museum, but rather all of them together organised along a passage under one roof and stratified both horizontally and vertically. A synthesis of the urban market square and a stage for presentation. If you will, you might compare this with the Acropolis in Athens serving as a city landmark – not just as a temple, but also as a market square, a place of encounter and information. The urban concept and idea in this case was to create a third, target-oriented icon next to the Headquarters of BMW embodied visibly by the Four-Cylinder Tower and the Museum Dish, forming an ensemble with the existing buildings despite the street in between. The Double Cone turned into a dynamic element through the construction of the BMW Welt is the starting point of a roof which, resting on just 11 pillars, offers a plastic configuration of this huge space and inside creates different zones by way of vertical distinction and differentiation – zones you may well experience as sequences in space.
The building opens up views from inside to outside and from outside to inside – the groove cut into the roof connects the BMW Welt in visual terms with the Four-Cylinder Tower and the bridge provides an actual, physical connection, extending the formal language of the interior to the exterior.

Ever since Le Corbusier liberated the roof of the Unité as a landscape from its singular significance and function as a mere protective element, and ever since Oscar Niemeyer completed the design of his single-family dwelling Casa das Canoas near Rio de Janeiro, we have understood that the roof of a building need not necessarily follow its basic layout and structure. Rather, the roof has taken on a new meaning, new significance in modern architecture.
Hybrid buildings more than just functional shells form the building bricks of the city, a city of the future. For wherever such buildings are open to the public, they are more than "just" the symbol, the trademark of a company. They give the city added value and re-interpret the concept of the public square. In the anonymous lattice of a city, they are points of identification comparable to chess figures on a chessboard where the grid of black-and-white boxes has been replaced by the white sound of information society. And although the conventional grid of a city structure has dissolved, the figures as well as the power or the energy of their moves are still perceptible and readable.

Wolf D. Prix
Special priority was placed on free sight lines and visual interaction between the various areas within BMW Welt as well as with the building’s immediate surroundings. The transparent glass facades permit views of the landscape of the Olympiapark from inside the building. The “Four Cylinders” building designed by Karl Schwanzer, headquarters of the BMW Group, is honored with a special gesture: a wedge cut out of the roof shape. Through this gap the entire high-rise can be experienced from within BMW Welt at certain points in the process of vehicle delivery.
At the heart of BMW Welt is vehicle delivery, which forms both the spatial hub and the functional backbone of the building, and the processes connected with this function extend over almost all levels. The new vehicles are delivered to the lower floors via their own loading yard. Here there are carwashes, mechanics’ workshops, final paint inspection sites and final cleaning sites as well as a one-day storage facility, an automatic high-rise storage unit with a capacity for 250 cars. This corresponds to the maximum daily capacity of the vehicle delivery process.
The delivery and end-finish process takes place hidden from customers and visitors on an underground stage. The vehicles are then transported in transparent glass elevators to the actual delivery stage, dubbed Premiere, which is at the center of BMW Welt, visible from all other areas. This area is also known as the “Marina” since the vehicles are handed over to customers on rotating platforms, from where they can drive out of the building via a generously sized ramp.
Although BMW Welt is basically a public building, certain areas are open exclusively to those picking up new vehicles. For example, at the main entrances to BMW Welt customers can check into a hotel and enjoy exclusive use of two Lounge levels. The Lounge is integrated into the roof and thus virtually suspended over the delivery area, supported only by the utility service shafts and a column.
The necessary formalities for vehicle hand-over are taken care of in the Lounge, which also contains common areas where guests who have arrived from far away can withdraw and rest. Via a gradually descending stairway connecting the Lounge to the Marina, the customer is guided by a customer service representative to the actual hand-over point. In this process the melding of interior and exterior space or suspension of the usual separation between them also becomes tangible on the functional level.
Another key function of BMW Welt is represented by the Forum. Located in the north wing of the building, this section embodies in a particularly striking way the concept of spatial and visual integration coupled with the highest degree of functional independence. The heart of the Forum is an Auditorium for up to 800 persons. Equipped with a variable topography of hydraulic platforms, it can be used for a variety of events, from the annual BMW AG financial press conference to classic theater pieces. Via a liftable gate that can be sunk into the floor across the entire width of the stage space, the Forum can be connected with the Hall to create a new kind of grand-scale event space.
The Auditorium was realized as a “space within a space” in acoustic terms, meaning that when the liftable gate is closed, no sound permeates from the Auditorium to the Hall or vice-versa. This makes it possible to hold functionally autonomous events simultaneously in the Hall and in the directly adjacent conference area. The Forum is supplemented by a full-service conference area, which is cantilevered out over 20 meters from the building block of the Forum, dominating the vista toward the north. The conference rooms can be adapted for various situations using mobile dividing walls. The section of the Forum structure visible “above ground” is only the tip of the iceberg. On the lower floors, the Forum includes a truck loading dock, catering kitchens, artists’ dressing rooms and interpreter booths as well as storage spaces and service rooms, which together account for twice the space of the actual core areas.
The Tower in the southwest, looking toward the Olympiapark, represents a multifunctional area in the fullest sense of the term. Just like the Forum, it offers both encapsulated interior rooms with sight lines out into the Hall and toward the Olympiapark as well as walk-through surfaces and terraces both indoors and outdoors. In addition to the two main restaurant units, it also includes exhibition and sales floors as well as the administrative offices with workplaces for up to 200 persons and the Junior Campus for children and young people (Junior Campus). Like the Forum, this structure requires widely branching roots in the lower stories. All the supply and disposal systems run through a loading yard assigned to this area, supplemented by storage areas, coat checks and staff rooms.
Special attention was paid to the underground networking of the various structures, so that it is possible to provide catering and supplies to the entire building from all restaurant units. The four-story underground base of BMW Welt also contains two public parking levels with up to 600 parking spaces. Access to the Hall is gained decentrally via 16 elevator groups. These underground service areas at BMW Welt cover 48,000 square meters, double the floor area of the aboveground levels, which comes to about 28,000 square meters including the auxiliary rooms.
In its functional multiplicity the Double Cone is no less impressive than the structures described above. It, too, is a full-service event realm extending over several levels, including a stage with its own catering infrastructure, rotating platforms and infrastructure connections for events such as concerts, exhibitions and talk shows. The Double Cone also makes it possible to exhibit vehicles from the workshop area. All of these structures take the form of walk-through sculptures in an urban landscape that is overarched by the virtually free-floating roof that originates out of the Double Cone and further differentiates the space into various sub-areas.
Inside BMW Welt, all publicly accessible areas, such as the Forum, Tower and Double Cone, are connected by a lightweight, sweeping bridge structure. In order to eliminate columns in the interior, the bridge was hung from the ceiling instead. At defined panorama points, curving bulges in the bridge invite guests to pause and take in the scene.
The functional and formal concept of the bridge is extended out over Lerchenauerstrasse and thus to BMW areas situated on the opposite side of the street (administration headquarters and museum), so there is no intersection with the vehicle traffic down below.

Edited by Coop Himmelb(l)au

The realization of the technical building facilities within the scope of the architecture led to a planning model with five thematic blocks: Hall, Premiere, Forum, Gastronomy.
A low-tech concept optimized ecologically using high-tech methods

The technical solution here is based on previous experience with large halls. All of the necessary features were realized successfully according to a low-tech concept. The interrelations of daylight and artificial light with ambient climate and acoustics influence people’s feeling of well-being in the Hall. The concept for the technological building systems takes up these relationships and integrates them in an interdependent manner, adapting their range of influence by modifying their dimensions or building in appropriate control mechanisms. A major goal in designing the systems was to save energy. This aim is achieved by minimizing the mechanical apparatus for ventilation, heating and cooling. The gigantic Hall is thus conceived as a solar-heated, naturally ventilated sub-climatic area, a multifunctional space that does not follow the otherwise customary requirements for heating and ventilation.
A natural air supply is generated by thermal currents, wind pressure and turbulences when air accumulates in the area of the facade and roof projection. Air intake and outflow take place through automatically controlled vents. The “natural aeration” system provides sufficient fresh air to the Hall.
The Hall’s roof system has special significance for the complex made up of heat, cold and air. A 3D simulation of thermal currents and air streams was conducted in order to investigate the spread of exhaust fumes from the cars driven on the Premiere level. Iterative calculations were then carried out to optimize the arrangement of air intake and outflow vents for natural air exchange in such a way that it was possible to remain below the permitted threshold value of around ten percent.
Exhaust gas diffusion prevented through negative pressure

The key task of the new BMW Welt is to deliver cars – in the Premiere section – with all concepts geared toward enhancing the experience of delivery. Because of the exhaust gases that this task involves, special considerations and calculations had to be made in terms of the ventilation plan, since the Premiere is open to the Hall – the major space in this world of experience. Beyond merely fine-tuning the volume of air intake and outflow currents, it was also important to extract the exhaust fumes directly and pump in fresh air. Planning here was based on an assumed turnover of 40 cars per hour, or 250 cars per day.
A room-in-a-room for maximum flexibility

The Forum is a separate event area for up to 1,200 persons, equipped to meet all the specifications for a full-fledged theater or conference room.
The ventilation technology fulfills the high demands on comfort and soundproofing placed on such a sensitive area when it is situated in the middle of other function areas. The technical facilities for this special area were conceived independently, including a plan for integrating them into the architecture. Air is supplied laterally via air jets and is extracted through the ceiling as exhaust air. Based on the number of people in the room, infinite adjustment of the required air volume is possible.
Island solutions place high demands on building systems to ensure well-being

The technical equipment discreetly supports the gastronomic functions. In places where guests spend longer periods of time, air sources are placed near the floor. In order to ensure pleasant air quality even near the glass facades, the vertical facade support profiles are heated to prevent the cold downdrafts typical for this kind of construction.
Double Cone
An event space offering all the options of a public assembly place

The Double Cone is used as an exhibition space and for special events. Air is brought in by means of a low-induction system along the base of the facade and streams into the roof through the opening at the top of the cone. Floor air conditioning and air circulation coolers in the wall and floor areas ensure the necessary comfort level. In the in-between seasons, natural ventilation via facade shutters is used. The structural design of BMW Welt represents a special challenge when determining how to conduct supply lines. Because of the vast support-free space, which is borne by only 11 columns plus the elevator shafts, the supply cross-sections for the Lounge floors and the Tower had to be integrated into the few supporting core cross-sections. This situation necessitated close coordination at a very early project phase between those responsible for structural engineering, the routing of facility services and building technology.

Edited by Coop Himmelb(l)au
Features of energy

The entire building makes use of natural resources in its operation. Consequently, the building can operate with the lowest possible energy consumption and the natural resources are used directly and indirectly to meet all requirements.
The glazed cladding surfaces, all of which have low thermal transmission coefficients, mean that the Heat Insulation Ordinance is adhered to and that comfortable surface temperatures are reached. Floor structures and, in part, wall structures increase the storage capability, and the building possesses very large inner zones which are only exposed to outer stresses (low temperatures, solar radiation) from above. For the most part, thermal upflows as well as warm air cushions are led directly outside in the layered area of the roof and thus do not pollute the useful areas below.
The building has been designed in such a way that ventilation occurs directly via the large wall areas and in part via the roof edge areas. The large wall elements that are oriented toward the west can be opened at outside temperatures from above +5 °C well into the summer (at outside temperatures of approx. +25 °C). At lower temperatures, directed partial ventilation is carried out; at outside temperatures above +20 °C the glass surfaces can be fully opened, thus making the inner space into an outdoor space. At this time, when the building is ventilated naturally, streams of air form which are warmed by inner sources of warmth. In this way a thermal aeration effect is achieved from above to below. The building should only remain closed in the coldest part of winter (with outer temperatures under +5° C) as well as during very hot times of the year, in order to avoid thermal incompatibility or high gains or losses of heat.
The external plantings facing the Olympia Park – particularly those in the area of the natural ventilation elements – lead to the binding of dust and in part to adiabate cooling effects. In this way the building is relieved, and the incorporation of the external plantings makes the building more attractive to later users.

Solar power system

Since the view onto the roof of BMW Welt as the fifth facade plays just as important a role in the communicative impact of the building’s outer skin as the four walls, a traditional fan-¬like raised arrangement of solar cells facing south was out of the question.
In conventional systems the output of south-facing cells in a reference year was about 16% higher than that of cells that were placed horizontally. However, the choice of special high-quality black glass-foil solar panels helped to almost balance out this difference. By avoiding mutual shadows cast between the cells in winter, it was additionally possible to reduce the lost energy production caused by snow cover in comparison to a standard solution. The installed solar power system has a nominal output of 810 kWp with 3,660 solar panels and an area of approx. 8,000 square meters. The solar panels were integrated flush with the surface of a stainless steel cover that fits over the actual roof drainage level. In this way, visible penetrations through the roof and visible exhaust structures were avoided.

Edited by Coop Himmelb(l)au
Germany [Deutschland]
Bavaria [Bayern]
Regional district
Upper Bavaria [Oberbayern]
Munich [München]
Georg-Braucle-Ring, Lerchenauer Straße, Brundageplatz
Buildings for cultural activities
Art galleries and exhibition areas
Conference halls
Commercial buildings
Commercial buildings
Bars, cafeterias
2001 - 2003     project winner of competition
2003 - 2007
Premio Internazionale Dedalo Minosse
alla Committenza di Architettura
[International Prize for Commissionig Building]
Wallpaper Design Award - Best new public building
DETAIL Prize - Innovation Steel
Lilli Hollein, "Gebaute Demokratie", H.O.M.E. 05/09, mai-juni/may-june 2009, "Architektur Deutschland" pp. 152-153 (146-158)
Michelle Galindo, Collection: European Architecture/Europaische Architektur/Architecture Européenne, Braun, Berlin 2009
Francesco Pagliari, "BMW Welt. Munich, Germany. Coop Himmelb(l)au", The Plan 23, dicembre 2007-gennaio 2008/december 2007-january 2008, "Architettura/Architecture" pp. 76-93
Christian Schittich, "Kritisch betrachet: Computergeneriertes Erlebniszentrum - die BMW-Welt in München/A Critical View: Computer-Generated Events Centre - BMW World in Munich", Detail 12/2007 [Digital Details/Détails numériques/Digitale], "Berichte/Reports" pp. 1442-1443
Kristin Feireiss (ed.), Dynamic Forces. Coop Himmelb(l)au. BMW Welt Munich, Prestel, 2007
Andreas Sicklinger, "Nuvola da 2 milioni di kg/«Nuvola» di vetro", Il giornale dell'architettura 55, ottobre 2007, "Concorsi" pp. 1, 28
Bruno Pedretti, "Fuga (in BMW) dall'architettura", Il giornale dell'architettura 55, ottobre 2007, "Concorsi" p. 28
Andreas Sicklinger, "... mentre Biemmevulandia è quasi completa", Il giornale dell'architettura 55, ottobre 2007, "Concorsi" p. 28
Stefano Casciani, "Oh che bella Macchina/Oh what a beautiful Machine", Domus 907, ottobre/october 2007, "Architecture" pp. 16-27
Wolf D. Prix, "Dinamismo di un'architettura mediatica/Dynamism of a media architecture", Domus 907, ottobre/october 2007, "Architecture" p. 26 (16-27)
Klaus Lother, "Integrierte Fassaden zum Heizen und Kühlen: Stahlfassade BMW Welt München/Heating and Cooling Facades - the Steel Facade of BMW Welt in Munich", Detail 7-8/2007 [Bauen mit Stahl/Steel Construction/Architecture en acier], "Technik/Tecnology" pp. 836-844 (835-850)
Hans-Werner Girkes, "Brandschutzkonzepte im Stahlbau/Fire Safety Concepts in Steel Buildings", Detail 7-8/2007 [Bauen mit Stahl/Steel Construction/Architecture en acier], "Technik/Tecnology" pp. 845-850 (835-850)
"Steel tornado", A10 new European architecture 16, july-august 2007, "Section: Metal" pp. 49, 51
"BMW Welt, Munich, Germany", A+U. Architecture and Urbanisme, july 2007 [Automobile architecture], pp. 124-129
"Coop Himmelb(l)au. Más allá de las nubes. BMW Welt, Múnich", Arquitectura Viva 114, V-VI 2007 [Vivienda normal], "Técnica/Diseño" pp. 80-87
"Un ciclón de Coop Himmelb(l)au para BMW", Arquitectura Viva 113, III-IV 2007 [Piedra al límite], "Breves" p. 7
"Coop Himmelb(l)au. BMW Welt. Monaco di Baviera", Casabella 748, ottobre/october 2006, "Automobili, fabbriche, musei" pp. 100-105
Michele Reboli, "Il cliente ha sempre ragione", Casabella 748, ottobre/october 2006, "Automobili, fabbriche, musei" p. 101 (100-105)
"Coop Himmelb(l)au. BMW Welt, Monaco" in Next. 8. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura. 2002, Marsilio, Venezia 2002, "Negozi" pp. 288-289
€ 100.000.000
site ca. sq.m. 25.000
floor ca. sq.m. 73.000 (ca. sq.m. 28.500 above ground, ca. sq.m. 44.500 underground)

doppio cono mq. 870 (mq. 450 above ground, mq. 420 underground)

roof ca. sq.m. 16.000

photovoltaic elements ca. sq.m. 6.300
m³ 531.000
max ca. m. 180
max ca. m. 130
max ca. m. 30

double cone m. 28
double cone m. 45
7 levels
3 above ground
4 underground
600 parking places
visitors 850.000/year
B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt
realgruen Landschaftsarchitekten, München
Wolf D. Prix/ W. Dreibholz & Partner ZT GmbH
Wolf D. Prix
Project architect
Paul Kath
Design team
Wolf D. Prix, Tom Wiscombe, Paul Kath, Waltraut Hohenender, Mona Marbach
Günther Weber, Penelope Rüttimann, Renate Weissenböck, Mona Marbach, Verena Perius
Hans Aescht, Beatrix Basting, Guy Bebiè, Chris Beccone, Johannes Behrens, Marcelo Bernardi, Pawel Bodzak, Verena Boyer, Antja Bulthaup, Timo Carl, Jan Chaldil, Ing Tse Chen, Tadeusz Chimiak, Andrea Christmann, Patrick Erhardt, Stephan Exsternbrink, Wolfgang Fiel, Benedikt Frass, Helmut Frötscher, Volker Gessendorfer, Andrea Graser, Lukas Haller, Markus Henning, Armin Hess, Jens Hoff, Tamas Horvath, Robert Huebser, Astrid Jagersberger, Marin Jurycz, Gregor Kassl, Areta Keller, Markus Klausecker, Tobias Klein, Martin Konrad, Quirin Krumbholz, Caroline Kufferath, Marion Lattenmayer, Stefan Laub, Wolfgang Leitgeb, Andreas Mieling, Karin Miesenberger, Dennis Milam, Elke Müller, Henrike Münker, Claudia Nehammer, Martin Oberascher, Alexander Ott, Stefan Pfefferle, Florian Pfeifer, Markus Pillhofer, Ekkehard Rehfeld, Goswin Rothenthal, Wolfgang Ruthensteiner, Jasmin Sauerbier, Florian Schafschetzy, Kristina Schinegger, Karolin Schmidbaur, Patrick Schneider, Katharina Schneider, Hubert Schoba, Angus Schoenberger, Andrea Schöning, Anja Sorger, Gernot Stangl, Mark Steinmetz, Sigrid Steinwender, Martina Tippelskirch, Dionicio Valdez, Pascal Vauclair, Akvile Rimantaite, Andreas Weissenbach, Heribert Wolfmayer, Irina Zahler
Architect of record
Hans Lechner ZT GmbH, Vienna, Austria
Sabine Liebenau
Structural consultant
B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt
Jörg Schneider
Klaus Bollinger, Manfred Grohmann, Jörg Schneider, Michael Wagner, Matthias Witte, Daniel Pfanner, Fr. Simon, Alexander Berger, Richard Troelenberg, Jürgen Aßmus, Hr. Wermischer

Schmitt, Stumpf, Frühauf + Partner, München
Ferdinand Tremmel
Mechanical engineer
Kühn Bauer + Partner, München
Günther Hammitzsch
Michael Kühn sen., Michael Kühn jun., Erika Kühn, Werner Bauer, Günther Hammitzsch, Jörg Mundle, Richard Sagner, Jochen Bergmeier, Gerhard Jülich, Nils Brandstätter, Jochen Manger, Katrin Wötzel, Michael Brach , Petra Brunk, Ulrike Ibbach
Electrical engineer
PRO, Elektroplan, Ottobrunn
Robert Rapp
Bernd Ropeter jun., Robert Rapp, Bernd Lohmann, Josef Emmer, Johannes Heuwieser, Alexandra Weber, Angelika Kahnt, Peter Feike, Luzia Ho, Karl Heinz May, Markus Bauer, Dorothea Kuzora, Petra Hartmann, Christine Müller
Lighting engineer
AG-Licht, Bonn
Wilfried Kramb, Klaus Adolph, Michaela Kruse
Physical engineering
Büro Dr. Pfeiler, Graz
Wolfgang Gollner, Sybill Kerschbaumer
Facades consultant
Emmer Pfenninger + Partner AG, Münchenstein
Emmer Pfenninger, Pierre Scherrer

R+R Fuchs, München
Richard Fuchs
Theatre consultant
Theater Projekte Daberto+Kollegen, München
Frank Schöpf
Reinhold Daberto, Frank Schöpf, Sebastian Fenk, Ulrich Zimmermann, Jörg Lilleike, Jochen Bauch, Benito Serravalle, Tom Smith, Ralph Preller, Markus Pusch
Photovoltaic plants
Transsolar, Klima Engineering, Stuttgart
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