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Car Museum Smackdown: Porsche vs. BMW

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This Saturday, Porsche throws open the doors on a gleaming new museum designed by Delugan Meissl. But is it even the best car museum in Germany? Does the Porsche Museum, near its Stuttgart factory, stack up to the BMW Welt, which opened in Munich a year ago? Let’s compare them in pictures, blow by blow:

Like the Porsche Museum, BMW Welt (designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au) has a dramatic approach. Its signature is a vortex of metal and glass which had architecture critics gushing:

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But take a look at the overall architecture. BMW Welt’s other elevations present a fairly conventional face to the surrounding area. The building is not necessarily all that interesting, as you move walk around it. In fact, it’s kind of monotonous:

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Compare that to the Porsche Museum. The faceted shape has become fairly familiar, thanks to architectural razzle dazzle from the likes of Zaha Hadid and Daniel Liebeskind, but it does have a major advantage: Each one of the building’s faces looks unique. Compare the two pictures below. The front entrance presents a dramatic cantilever with a mirrored underside, which makes that entire space its own attraction—a bit like the Anish Kapoor’s “Bean” sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. On the building’s backside, a dramatically raked angle responds to the trains whizzing by on the tracks:

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(Those two images via KultureFlash and taken by Brigida Gonzalez.)

Moving inside, the situation is reversed: BMW Welt is a much more interesting building. Though both museums have dramatic entrances, at BMW Welt the vortex you see outside is echoed by the space inside. Like the Guggenheim New York, a spiraling ramp doubles as exhibition space:

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The Porsche Museum has a dramatic entrance, but it doesn’t have much of a relationship with the exterior, outside of the thatch of slashing lines on the ceiling. And once you move up into the museum, the spaces become almost banal:

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Armchair verdict? We’ll give this one to BMW by a nose—but that mirrored approach space to the Porsche Museum nearly swayed us.

[Via Dezain; Images from BMW and Porsche except where noted]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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