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2013/Concours Natural City Berlin


Can Onaner / William Parlon / Georgi Stanishev

Localisation Berlin, Allemagne

Projet 2013

The architecture of this new Natural Science Museum in Berlin uses the metaphor of the skeleton in different manners. First, as a metaphor of the city of Berlin itself, it can be seen as a result of successions of fractures and consolidations. Like Berlin, the museum seems to be suspended in time, showing the traces of existences that has disappeared and could never be reproduced; but still open to new lives, new species, and new knowledge. Secondly, in a structural analogy, the entire building has the form of a skeleton: like a paleontological skeleton it is repetitive and dense. We can enter inside the skeleton-building and move among exposed skeletons. Functionally, the museum is conceived as a large structure that integrates different uses. Unlike the dead skeletons it exposes, the museum is a living skeleton, open to changes, new breaks and calcifications.


This piranesean structure creates a complex and heterogeneous interior which is difficult to grasp at first sight, while in the exterior; the skeleton is covered with a continuous skin that gives it a more comprehensible image. In this sense, the museum which is massif in its exterior and labyrinthine in its interior, reflects the image of the City of Berlin : like Berlin, it is an interior city whose austere exterior hides a mountain of knowledge, fictions, truths and untruths that is nothing but baroque.


The architecture of the museum is conceived with a structuralist logic that matches together the constructive principle, the lighting, the spatial quality, and the functional specificities. The exhibition area is spread out in all the surface of the ground level, lighted through patios and naves. Each patio is conceived as particular and differentiated centers around which the species are disposed. One of the centers develops as a large staircase that distributes the entire building. Around the patios, suspended at 9m from the ground, are the volumes that host the administrative, educational and research programs. These suspended volumes are linked to each other with a series of galleries and walkways on three levels.


Suspended in time, the museum is a city where we wander, waiting for the discovery of extinct species, or the unexpected encounter of an unknown person in the turn of a gallery. The building offers many possibilities of using this large public space and wandering around the exhibits, like wandering in a fragment of the city.

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