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The Mercedes-Benz Museum is dedicated to a legendary car; its unique structure has been specifically devised to showcase a collection in which technology, adventure, attractiveness and distinction are merged. It is also a museum for people to freely move through, to dream, learn, look and let themselves be oriented by fascinations of light and space.

The museum is located at the entrance of Stuttgart, home to Mercedes-Benz. The nine-storey museum opened in 2006. It was awarded the Hugo-Häring Prize, for 2008, in the category “Guter Baut” for outstanding construction and architecture projects.

Mercedes-Benz Museum trefoil design

The structure of the Mercedes-Benz Museum is based on a trefoil formed from three overlapping circles; both in its internal organisation and in its outward expression, this geometry responds to the car-driven context of the museum. The museum is composed of two interweaving ramps, while the trefoil design spreads over eight floors in a twisting spiral. The museum was designed by UN Studio.

“Surrounded by Mercedes-Benz cars of different ages and types, the visitor is reminded of driving down the highway.”

The spiral shaped floors, much like the Mercedes trademark, revolve around a triangular-shaped empty foyer to form six levels that alternate between one and two-storey heights. The double-helix interior resembling DNA’s genetic strands has helped to optimise space for exhibitions. The museum stands on an area of 4,800m² and provides an exhibition space of 16,500m². With 100ft-wide spans, the ramps of the exhibition areas provide a flexible geometry, allowing the walls to become floors and floors to become walls. The walls are curved and surfaces are inclined around two axes, making the interior a continuously unfolding space.

The building opens up from an artificial hill indented with wide steps that rise to the public entrance. Visitors enter the building from the north-west corner. The entrance lobby introduces to the visitor the organisational system of the museum, which entails the distribution of the two types of exhibitions over three “leaves”, which are connected to a central “stem” in the form of an atrium. The building spirals around this atrium. The entrance lobby contains an escalator that leads down to the ground level, and three lifts that take visitors up to the top of the building.

Inside, walking down the ramps of the museum, surrounded by cars of different ages and types, the visitor is reminded of driving down a road. Outside, the smooth curves of the building echo the rounded vernacular of nearby industrial and event spaces, such as the football stadium, the Mercedes-Benz test course, and the gas and oil tanks along the river, as well as the recurring loops of the road system on site.

A 330ft-long passageway beneath a concrete podium links the museum with the adjacent three-storey Mercedes-Benz Centre.

“The Mercedes-Benz Museum is dedicated to a legendary car.”

Mercedes-Benz collection and history

From the eighth floor, the visitor may take one of two spiralling ramps down; the first chain linking the collection of cars and trucks, and the second the connecting Mythos rooms, which are the secondary displays relating to the history of Mercedes-Benz.

More than 120 years of the automobile history are on the show in this museum. There are also 40 vans, buses, lorries, engines, an aircraft, boats and railway vehicles are on display.