To truly understand the intimate design of their cars and motorcycles,
BMW has provided the world with some of the finest pieces of German automotive engineering since the 1930’s. Its unmistakable logo, recognized worldwide, resonates ideas of power, reliability, and sheer engineered quality. But to truly understand the intimate design of their cars and motorcycles, a visit to the BMW headquarters in Munich remains necessary for any car enthusiast.
The experience starts upon entry to the newly constructed BMW Welt, a space age contemporary masterpiece so fantastic that it appears almost as a computer rendering rather than a facet of reality. The Welt serves as everything from a car delivery center, to a business forum, to a café/restaurant for those who make the visit. The arching 16,000 square meter cloud-like roof rests seemingly weightlessly on the twelve columns lining the main gallery and conduct solar energy to provide heating, cooling and ventilation in the building. The entire building, grounded at one end in a typhoon-like tower overwhelms visitors in a sea of undulating surfaces that allow the building to live and breathe as if it were a live organism. Upon entry to the contemporary environment visitors are inclined to experience a unique artificial space unlike any other in the world. The wind flow ventilation from North to South pushes through the building, directing those inside concurrently through the exhibitions and onto the next leg of their journey.
After experiencing the first breath of BMW’s current line of automobiles in the Welt, a brief wander across the sky bridge leads to a labyrinth path, which zigzags throughout the history of the company. Exhibits detail every part of their business from advertising to engineered weight reduction. Walking down the designated path, which seems to float above the final showroom below, each exhibit dictates the ever-changing developments in innovation BMW has undergone over the years. The permanent exhibition ends in a display of BMW’s current engineering projects including a prototype model of their Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered car, a vehicle that’s only exhaust product would be water.
The temporary exhibit hall follows and with a cylindrical pathway climbing up and up until a large showroom is reached. The original view of the architect Prof. Karl Schwanzer characterized the design as a road confined to an interior space. This road begins underground characterizing the behind the scenes foundations to design at BMW. The seemingly never-ending road winds through the laborious path from an initial idea to a realized innovation and culminates in the presentation of a futuristic stage and showroom that depicts the end product of the uphill design process in all of its glory.
A full visit gives each individual a nutritious bite of what automotive engineering is all about. The undulating forms of the BMW Welt and its complementary Museum lead visitors on a path winding above the realm of modern reality into a contemporary world of endless ideas and innovation. Ultimately, the experience comes to an end when an escalator descends back to the ground level lobby where real life takes place.