ArchDaily recently spoke to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect at UNStudio, an international network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure based in the Netherlands. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK.
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The 35,000sqm project designed by UN Studio between 2001-2006, includes also a restaurants, stores, offices and an auditorium.
The design is based on the geometry of a clover, with the spaces connected between two helical ascending ramps, around a central atrium.
According to Ben van Berkel, joint founder and director of UNStudio “The Mercedes‑Benz Museum sets up an interface for a series of radical spatial principles in order to create a completely new typology”.
And by this, he refers to how visitors experience the museum: They do not begin their visit to the exhibition at a conventional entrance at the base of the building. They are transported by lift to the top floor. Here they have the choice of two tours, during which they descend through the building. The paths of each tour meet on each floor, enabling visitors to switch between tours – the Collections tour and Legend tour – should they wish to do so.
After this project was completed, several tried to imitate it and these kind of circulations became a cliché among architects (and students).
You can see more details of the lift system at NotCot.
More photos by Michael Schnell after the break: