Amethyst, by OMA

Amethyst
Amethyst

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.

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Science Center, Hamburg
3deluxe – Interior (Copyright 3deluxe)
Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Science Center, Hamburg
3deluxe – Interior (Copyright 3deluxe)

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.

HafenCity, Hamburg
HafenCity, Hamburg
Ueberseequartier, HafenCity Hamburg
Ueberseequartier, HafenCity, Hamburg

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.

Ueberseequartier, HafenCity Hamburg
Ueberseequartier, HafenCity Hamburg

The redesigned Cruise Terminal however has a more modest, traditional design, so one amethyst remains.

Ueberseequartier, HafenCity Hamburg
Ueberseequartier, HafenCity, Hamburg

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. 

MVRDV - De Effenaar, Eindhoven
MVRDV – De Effenaar, Eindhoven (Copyright MVRDV)

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.

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Design for a skyscraper at the 'Content' Exhibition (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
OMA/Rem Koolhaas – Design for a skyscraper for Japan at the ‘Content’ Exhibition in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The obsession for pixels by Rem Koolhaas, that the entry for the Gazprom competition showed again, seems to go back a while, and is for instance also apparent in the Beijing Books Building.

In the city of Hamburg, where the new architecture…

Speicherstadt, Hamburg (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Speicherstadt, Hamburg (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

… sometimes looks just like the existing architecture…

Speicherstadt, Hamburg (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Speicherstadt, Hamburg (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

… 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.

Related: Manhattan Bar Chart, by OMA, Blocks, by Rex, Bookcase, by OMA.

The project is added to the Architects, and Representation pages.

6 Comments

“…seems thus to go back a while, and is for instance also apparent in the Beijing Books Building.”

Your citation / reference foto from the Kunsthal Content exhibition shows early study models for the proposal of the Tokyo-Mode Gakuen tower in Nishi-Shinjuku, not the Beijing Books Building, as hyperlinked.

Yes, that is right. The pixelation theme appears In this design for the Science Center…

And in the Gakuen Tower shown in the ‘Content’ Exhibition
And in the entry for the Gazprom competition
And in the Beijing Books Building

That is at least 4 times. Will the next book by Rem be called ‘Pixels’?

Wow, the design is amazing!

The building makes me also think of the old CRT televisions – round and big on the outside, a bundle of pixels in the middle.

Very, very cool…

“A meteorite broken in half. The Magdenburg Hemi-spheres, finally parted.”

Actually, this is not true. The metaphor is inapplicable; please notice the halves are similar in morphology. Two of the same with dissimilar orientation. Twins yes, meteorite no.

“That is at least 4 times. Will the next book by Rem be called ‘Pixels’?”

Maybe it should be called ‘Amethyst’…? Crystallization?

Well, looks nice. But I don´t understand the relation between the meteorites and the rest of the project.
Why not, for a scince institut, remember The Panteon as a tipology and building which is the place for everything….A broken pixelated Panteon.

A form, such as this one, has always multiple iconographies. One reads an amethyst, another meteorites, and yet another a television or a Pantheon. Although one might miss the ‘oculus’ for that latter reading.

That the Science Center and Cruise Terminal were designed as a couple of buildings, seems the result of the Masterplan by KCAP for the whole HafenCity, that already shows such a twin.

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