Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism

Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism.
Exhibition, auditorium, library, seminar, conference rooms, offices

The Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism on the site of the so-called “Brown House” serves as a marker for the former headquarters of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). However, by means of its autonomy the abstract, non-directional cube which is loosely positioned within the surroundings, built from white concrete, appears simultaneously detached from its proximate topography with a deliberate distance. A square-cut terrace, publicly available, interlocks the building within the vicinity. Cross-storey window openings which are being cut into the cube’s façade are given rhythm by vertical concrete members thus maintaining the building’s clear geometry. These windows allow for views of the surrounding topography while simultaneously representing the inner structure where various atriums, each combining two storeys, generate constantly changing spatial situations.

As a place of learning, the documentation centre is not merely a structural shell for exhibitions; it also serves to enable the city's historical stratigraphy to be read: from the classical urban planning by Leo von Klenze, through to the establishment of the Nazis' party forum and the subsequent displacement thereof. Thus, the cross-storey views are of defining significance: they allow positioning and make it possible to project the exhibition content onto the fabric of the city. The documentation centre is a building that adds another layer to the city's pre-existing ones, with subtle abstract means that suit the complexity of the location.
This structure can be seen as an ambiguous figure within the ensemble of buildings around Königsplatz: one which either remains vague in the background, or gently pushes its way into the foreground. With its deliberate otherness, it becomes noticeable, yet it also blends in. By making use of abstraction's potential for irritation, there’s achieved an adequate form of expression for a place of learning and documentation at this location: because learning means recognising differences and learning means raising awareness.

The structure has been designed as an exact cube with a building mass of 22.50 m x 22.50 m x 22.50 m.
Large façade openings cut into the cube are patterned by vertical concrete louvers which give the structure a three-dimensional layout without compromising on its clear geometry. The windows, which extend around the corners of the building, allow focused views on the surrounding topography. The interior and exterior of the building are characterized by the predominant material: white concrete, a ready-mixed concrete produced from white pigment and white sand, in which the building has been entirely designed from the supporting cores and façades all the way to the floor and ceiling slabs. Also the square terrace is built from the same material. The structure, which has been left in the “raw” state, determines the exterior look while at the same time becoming the passe-partout for the intended interior uses, and in particular for the exhibition architecture.

1st prize - design competition incl. preceding, application procedure 2009
State Prize for architecture Bavaria 2015
Bavarian Prize for architecture 2015
Overall winner Heinze Architekten Award 2015