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At the Autostadt, architect J Mayer H combines motion and sustainability

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March 24, 2014

The structures of the MobiVersum are all made of timber (Photo: Uwe Walter for Autostadt, ...

The structures of the MobiVersum are all made of timber (Photo: Uwe Walter for Autostadt, Wolfsburg)

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If you’re interested in seeing the latest, most advanced car designs while also taking in some modern art and learning about sustainability, then you might want to stop in at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany. The museum-showroom-education complex is now also home to the "MobiVersum," by Jürgen Mayer H. The new interactive sculptural installation by the Berlin-based architect is made up of a cluster of abstract shapes that resembles an architectural playground, but is meant to offer lessons in motion and sustainability.

Opened at the end of 2013, the MobiVersum was designed to provide an array of physical challenges as well as presenting information on the Earth's resources and energy-awareness to the Autostadt’s younger visitors. Mayer is known for employing extreme organic forms and funky geometries in an array of building projects, from the Schlump One office building in Hamburg to the Metropol Parasol in Seville. He describes the large, multi-functional forms created for the Autostadt as "a playful learning landscape."

Situated in a space adjacent to the Volkswagen showroom, the MobiVersum is part of a larger exhibition elaborated around the theme "People, Cars, and What Moves them." The MobiVersum shows Mayer’s characteristic curves, and is made up of elements in "tree-like" shapes, which are constructed entirely of smoothly-turned wood, and which children can interact with in different ways. They can explore by climbing through and around the various roots, trunks and branches, but they can also take up some of the specific challenges embedded in the design.

Internal stair in the 'tree-like' installation (Photo: Uwe Walter for Autostadt, Wolfsburg...

Created in consultation with Renate Zimmer, professor at the Institut für Sport- und Bewegungswissenschaft (Institute for Sport and Movement) at the University of Osnabrück, the sculpture is said to be unique in terms of its design and the opportunities it presents specifically to test children’s motor skills. But its undulating forms are also clearly meant to highlight ideas of dynamics and movement.

The sculptural forms are also used to create spatial zones that emphasize different activities and levels of engagement. Blocks or arrangements of shapes are used to articulate meeting spaces for other learning projects, such as workshops and children’s cooking classes. With its inviting curves and accessible surfaces, the MobiVersum addresses key areas of learning to do with visual and tactile stimuli.

This latest installation was intended as a part of a continued dialogue with the Level Green exhibition on the floor above, which the architect designed in 2007. There, he created an experiential surface in vivid green shapes that resembles a futuristic jungle of complex curves, but which were inspired by the symbol for PET (polyethylene terephthalate). These curves and waves rise up with embedded screens that present interactive media programs on sustainable practices.

The Autostadt is a curious complex of automobile showrooms, educational programs and branded exhibition pavilions. Visitors can test drive vehicles, design their ideal car and survey a range of art on display in different venues. In some ways this seems an ideal project for the architect, whose expressive, imaginative forms have been given a freer rein than is possible on a building envelope, and it will no doubt have great audience appeal.

Source: Jürgen Mayer H

About the Author
Phyllis Richardson Phyllis is an architecture and design writer based in London. She champions the small and sustainable and has published several books, including the XS series (XS, XS Green, XS Future) and Nano House. In her spare time she ponders the impact of the digital world on the literary.   All articles by Phyllis Richardson
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