The Concept of Sustainability
Personal responsibility in the sustainable use of global resources continues to play an increasingly important role in the life of the average consumer. In this context, the offices of J. MAYER H. Architects and Art+Com Berlin were commissioned to develop a permanent exhibition on the topic sustainability for the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany. The exhibition Level Green was opened on the 4th of June 2009 and encompasses approximately 1000 m2, the exhibition renders this highly complex topic tangible, providing for an aesthetic access to information. In so doing, it seeks to unfold the various aspects of the topic while creating an information environment that addresses the visitor on different sensual levels.
Photos: Uwe Walter, Berlin
Subject to constant re-evaluation based on the latest scientific findings, the term sustainability is characterized by a high degree of complexity. The architectural design of Level Green takes the numerous interdependencies of the topic as a starting point and translates this quality into the metaphor of the web. Similar to a continuous organism, the single elements of the exhibition are connected into one homogenous structure that houses all content and technical installations.
As one of the first prominent signs of the growing consciousness for environmentally friendly consumption, the well known PET-sign was taken as a starting point from which the metaphor of the extensively branched web was developed. This originally 2-dimensional sign was extended into the third dimension and through a series of step by step manipulations a complex structure was created, which allows for an abstract property of the topic to be experienced on a spatial level.
The dramaturgy of the exhibition is not determined by a linear approach but one of nonlinear logics, opening the space for a more ambiguous experience. Vertical Elements define different areas within the exhibition without strictly separating them, allowing the visitor's experience to be carried by the idea of playful discovery.
After a phase of extensive material research, the design was executed by the use of easily processed wood composite sheets (MDF) with varying thickness according to the structural and geometrical demands. The MDF-Material is specially treated to meet the fire rating requirements (B1) necessary for this project. In order to guarantee the structural performance of the construction, all vertical elements were reinforced with a steel structure and bolted to the concrete floor. After various testing, the colour coating was executed with acrylic-based car paint, developed to guarantee high usability while meeting strict environmental regulations. The painting was done by local firms accustomed to high quality standards common in the automobile industry.
The concept for the display of information is based two main formats: the object-like display of data and statistics on a more sensational level and touch sensitive surfaces for in-depth explanations on different aspects of the topic. Designed to evoke the visitors initial interest, the first are placed within the exhibition space in the form of data sculptures or sample objects. The latter take on the form of black surfaces for interaction or information carrier and are seamlessly integrated into the vertical elements which define different areas within the space.
Necessary technical installations are also integrated into the design and appear only in the abstract form such as glowing lines or painted covers.
As far as the subject matter is concerned, the exhibition Level Green argues for scientific research and the use of latest technological development as necessities for survival in the future. This point of view is represented as an atmospheric environment, in which physical and digital spaces complement each other, creating one common narrative.
The Autostadt’s exhibition Level Green examines three aspects of sustainability – the environment, society and the economy - and brings the everyday interaction between these components together in an artistic installation. The design displays the content in an interactive and playful way, stimulating the visitor’s curiosity about the subject of sustainability.
Zu J. MAYER H. Architects
The exhibition, situated on the first floor of the Volkswagen GroupForum in the Autostadt, on approximately 1 000 m², offers 25 exhibits from which to explore the theme of sustainability. The visitor is led to discover the areas in which she/he can become an active participant.