The new Science Center in Hamburg designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA looks just like an amethyst. As Rem Koolhaas despises the explicit use of iconography in architectural design, the amethyst analogy is not deliberately meant. The Science Center measures 14.000 square meters and features an aquarium, an academic theater, and probably also a planetarium.
The city of Hamburg in northern Germany is redeveloping its docklands into a mixed-use high-density neighborhood. The centerpiece of this HafenCity is being privately developed by the Dutch combination of ING Real Estate, SNS Property Finance and Gross & Partner. Last December the conceptual design for the area, by Rem Koolhaas/OMA and Erick van Egeraat/EEA, has been presented to the public.
In the urban design the Science Center is counter-parted by a similar sized building that features a hotel and cruise terminal. Originally the Science Center and Cruise Terminal were designed as twins; two halves of a sphere — the one standing up, the other one laying down. A meteorite broken in half. The Magdenburg Hemi-spheres, finally parted.
The redesigned Cruise Terminal however has a more modest, traditional design, so one amethyst remains.
The concept of encircling a central void with program is echoed in the work of ex-OMA architects MVRDV, for instance in the pop podium The Effenaar, in Eindhoven.
Formally the Science Center reminded me of a design by Rem Koolhaas/OMA for a skyscraper that was presented in the Content Exhibition. The skyscraper also featured a contrasting smooth outer skin, and a pixilated open core.
In the city of Hamburg, where the new architecture…
… sometimes looks just like the existing architecture…
… the Science Center by OMA will stand out, together with the amazing, and devastatingly beautiful, Elbphilharmonie by Herzog & de Meuron.
A short film of the Ueberseequartier can be viewed here.