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Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) 1

Karlsruhe, Germany
1989 (competition)

Centre for art and media technology

The centre for art and media technology is located

on the border of the baroque town of Karlsruhe.
On one side are the train tracks on the other the
ramps of the motorway.
The entrance at the city side (on the other side of
the tracks) is connected to the periphery side by
a tunnel. The tunnel is also used by the station
circulation and along the tunnel a wall of glass
seperates the different users
The programmatic parts are organized vertically.
From the bottom upwards the structure transforms
from machine to building. Through the four
elevations the building presents itself differently.
The school is located east of the ‘tower’. It is
connected to the museum by a corridor parallel to
museum school the tracks. Although the school was a main part
of the program brief it is almost never shown in
OMA won the competition but the building was not
realized because of, in OMA’s point of view, the
slowness of architecture. The projects feasibility
could not cope with the unstable political and
economic forces of 1989 Germany (break down of
Berlin wall).

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie and Bahnhof Situation scale 1/2500

level 140 m ateliers scale 1/500

level 137 m media museum scale 1/500

level 121 m main entrance, foyer, theatre scale 1/200

level 116 m bahnhof entrance, laboratoria scale 1/500

The architectural idea Motive to build

The architectural theme of this design is a response to a series The aims for the new ZKM were:
of relationships between the existing city and the implications - to make sure that the new art and technology is as
of the site and program. The classical city of Karlsruhe in accessible as possible for the public, scientists and artists to
itself contradicts the presence of a futuristic center of art and work on.
technology; while the railway station building is oreinted toward - to provide possibilities between these three fields to create
the city center, the ZKM is oreinted toward the periphery. interdisciplinary projects (Gesamtkunstwerk)
Part of the program accomodates research for the artists, - to teach in the fields of art en media technology (the idea
while the other part is devoted to the public; the museum was to create a Bauhaus-like organization)
for modern art offers a spectrum of exhibition possibilities, - to exhibit the results of the history and future of art and
ranging from traditional to experimental. The formulation of media technology.
these contradictions is the goal of this design. - to create an atmosphere where media technology can mix
Early efforts where directed towards treating the project as with traditional (performance) arts.
independed from the railway station. However each attempt to - to have spaces where special techniques can be developed.
separate the museum from the station left only a small strip of
land wedged between the street and parking garage. Building The programmatic and internal structure of the building should
only on this strip would bind the architects to a pepitiition of be in such a way that people from different disciplines can
the existing railway layout. The design follows the opposite meet, and through those interactions the building creates a
concept; maximal integration of the station and ZKM. As in strong synthesis between art and media technology.
the two dimesioal baroque city layout, a third dimension is
given. The ZKM design is based on the X,Y and Z axes. Axis
represents and oragnizes one or more polarities: Centre-
periphery, classical-futuristic and public private.
Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) 2
Karlsruhe, Germany
1989 (competition)

level 165 m exhibition, restaurant scale 1/500 third floor school, courtyard scale 1/1000

level 156 m exhibition scale 1/500 second floor school, courtyard scale 1/1000

level 153 m auditorium & library/meditheque scale 1/500 first floor school scale 1/1000

level 144 m exhibition scale 1/500 entrance floor school scale 1/1000

Ideology of the architect

The architect is not specifically concerned with art and teaching. Merely he a kind of ‘surgery’ designed to keep the treatment of the interior and the
issues the aspects of large programs. His idea is carried foreward in his exterior, the façade and the programme, strictly separate.
theories on big buildings and cities. This becomes clear in his theory on At the point where architects were abandoning the traditional moral principle
Bigness: of the ‘honest façade’ – one that reflects what lies behind it – they discovered
a freedom of design such as they had never known. The form of the building
‘Beyond a certain critical mass each structure becomes a monument, or at least became autonomous and self-referential. This strategy also ensured that the
raises that expectation through its size alone, even if the sum or the nature programmes within the building could change without affecting the exterior.
of the individual activities it accommodates does not deserve a monumental Koolhaas used these principles as the starting point for his Paris library (TGB)
expression. This category of monument presents a radical, morally traumatic and Karlsruhe media centre (ZKM) projects, both of which were completed
break with the conventions of symbolism: its physical manifestation does not around 1989. Both were situated on the edge of the city, and incorporated
represent an abstract ideal, an institution of exceptional importance, a three- an immense and varied programme. Both designs consisted of a monolithic
dimensional, readable articulation of a social hierarchy, a memorial; it merely block in its simplest volumetric form: a cube. This is not a reference either
is itself and through sheer volume cannot avoid being a symbol – an empty to existing typologies for public buildings or to the morphology of the urban
one, available for meaning as a billboard is for advertisement. It is a solipsism, environment.
celebrating only the fact of its disproportionate existence, the shamelessness Accordingly, Koolhaas makes no mention whatsoever of the representative
of its own process of creation. This monument of the twentieth century is the capacity of the architecture, much less the representation of collectivity. In
Automonument, and its purest manifestation is the Skyscraper.’ his view, the only way architecture can continue to be manifested in today’s
However, this modern Automonument has a contradictory character: ‘that urban culture is in the large, monolithic buildings themselves – islands in
of being monument – a condition that suggests permanence, solidity and the city, into which all the architecture withdraws and, at the same time,
serenity – and at the same time, that of accommodating, with maximum is concentrated. These monoliths are ‘the last bastion of architecture ...
efficiency , the “change which is life”, which is, by definition, anti-monumental.’ landmarks in a post-architectural landscape’. This ‘archipelago’ conception of
In order to resolve this paradox, the architecture of the American skyscraper the city can be seen in Koolhaas’s 1972 project for The City of the Captive
developed a strategy that Koolhaas metaphorically refers to as ‘lobotomy’: Globe.
City of the captive globe, from Delirious New York
Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) 3
Karlsruhe, Germany
1989 (competition)

5350 m2

Program 4820 m2
Public private
public private
private = employee

private-collective = research

collective = student

public = visitors

1570 m2

1370 m2

1030 m2
940 m2

730 m2

520 m2
440 m2
280 m2

foyer theatre/ museum/ cafe/ library/ depot offices laboratory/ parking outside / other
auditorium exposition restaurant mediatheque atelier roofterrace


level 137 m media museum level 153 m auditorium, mediatheque level 163 m exhibition level 165 m roof terace

to the

main entrance

level 137 m foyer, theatre level 144 m exhibition level 156 m exhibition level 165 m restaurant
city entrance

vertical circulation

Horizontal circulation

free horizontal circulation

service space

fixed workspace

informal meeting or flexible space

level 116 m laboratory level 140 m ateliers school building

flexible / fixed spaces

level 116 m video display level 140 m ateliers & media museum level 153 m auditorium & mediatheque school building ateliers & informal meeting

Explanation of the diagrams sources:

Programmatic arrangement
The main programmatic parts are stacked in the center of the S,M,L,XL
building. Around this center is the lay out of circulation and O.M.A., Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau
offices. 1995
The routing spirals its way up the building. Sometimes it is roof museum
El Croquis (53+79)

just a ramp or escalator. At other points the circulation space

widens to provide opportunities to have informal meetings. Rem Koolhaas 1987 1998 (monography) museum contemporary art

And then the routing stops to carry on through a programmatic museum contemporary art
part of the building (media museum, auditorium, exhibition Delirious New York
space). By these means the circulation is not just necessary Rem Koolhaas auditorium / library
space but becomes a characteristic element of the building. 1978
museum contemporary art
The private and public spaces have their own territory. At

some points they are connected by the routing or because Bauwwelt 48, 1989 media workshops

media museum
one space ‘invades’ the others territory. Heinrich Klotz

main programme
To provide big structure-free spaces the construction of the Zentrum fur kunst undmedientechnologie

center of the building consists of two vertical concrete slaps

connected by big vierendeel-beems. The areas laying inside media theatre / foyer
these vierendeel-beams are characterized by these structural
research by: laboratoria foyer train station
elements to form a contrast to the large free spaces. media museum
The school is connected to the tower by a corridor parallel
to the tracks. This area is also used as a study landscape. Ton Dekkers
Perpendicular to the corridor are spaces in front of the Joop Tobben
ateliers providing oppotunities for conversation and informal