Steimle Architekten

Visitor center . Bernau near Berlin

Steimle Architekten . photos: © Brigida González . + baunetz

In summer 2017, the Bauhaus Monument “Bundesschule Bernau” was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In order to meet the growing public interest in the building ensemble built by Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer and the associated increase in visitor numbers, the town of Bernau launched a competition for the visitor center at the end of 2017.

As an innovative and identity-creating building, the new visitor center should on the one hand be subordinate to the monument ensemble, but on the other hand, also assert itself as a high-quality urban architectural structure.

It forms the prelude to an appropriate experience of the World Heritage Site and introduces visitors to the theme of this special place. Integrated into the landscape of the pine forest in front of it, the pavilion provides a first view of the architectural monument, guided by the long-stemmed pines of the forest. The visit is comprehended as a sequence of experiences in analogy to the effects that Hannes Meyer called “psychological effects” and which are intended to emphasize the physically temporal dimension of the architecture.

The visitor center is conceived as a linear moment in the form of a simple stationary structure. Slightly elevated above the forest level, the visitor enters the pavilion via a spacious reception terrace. Like a “welcoming gesture”, the massive cantilevered canopy above the terrace invites its audience to enter. The building, which is glazed almost on all sides, offers sufficient space to experience the special atmosphere and to linger. At the same time, the building assumes its functions of welcoming and providing with an open flowing sequence of rooms.

Towards the “Bundesschule” in the east, the large showroom, which occupies the entire length of the building, can be divided completely flexibly and, with its open façade, is in constant visual contact with the listed building. The ancillary rooms are compactly oriented as a sequence of rooms to the west toward the parking areas. The chosen design language of the building is inspired and reflected by the graphic systems and technical equipment of the Trade Union School and achieves an independent aesthetic by following its function.

The roof construction, which appears heavy due to the materiality of the insulating concrete, paradoxically seems to float above the building. Barely perceptible filigree round steel supports in front of the glass façade, which is embedded in the circumferential roof edge at the upper support, and the wall panels of the ancillary rooms contribute decisively to this static balancing act. The implementation of this construction system as well as the exact execution of the shell with the horizontal formwork pattern of the rough-sawn boards give the building its special and independent character.

completion: 2022
competition: 1st prize
BGF: 485 m²
BRI: 2.400 m³
builder: city of Bernau bei Berlin
place: Bernau bei Berlin
pictures: Brigida González