Germany-based architecture and planning firm Behnisch Architekten has designed a very large public aquarium in the German city of Stralsund – Ozeaneum German Oceanographic Museum. The new museum is an open structure flooded from all sides by light, similar to the way stones in the sea near the water’s edge are flooded by the surrounding water. Its fluid form has succesfully created a new city image in the historical site and become a new landmark at the Baltic coast.
+ Project description below provided by Taylor, on behalf of Behnisch Architekten
A weather-beaten, urban city on the Baltic Sea with a long history of trade. The aquarium lies at a harbor promenade surrounded by historic warehouses, and is oriented toward the sea. Before becoming Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel represented this region in the German Parliament.
The design of the external areas emphasizes the role of the museum as a landmark for Stralsund, giving evidence of the new activities on the northern harbor island. The complex incorporates large aquaria, comprehensive exhibitions about the Baltic Sea, the world’s oceans, and marine research and resources, and a special display accommodating “Giants of the Sea.” Functional areas, such as parking spaces for bicycles, needed to be integrated into the plan. The architects were also challenged to highlight the museum’s most prominent asset, the sea.
The competition brief posed a diverse range of challenges: a technically and architecturally ambitious natural history museum complex incorporating large aquaria; a modern landmark facility to be integrated into the largely intact urban environment of a traditional Hanseatic city; the German Oceanographic Museum’s educational mission to familiarize visitors with underwater flora and fauna and the importance of conserving their natural habitats.
Behnisch Architekten’s German Oceanographic Museum “Ozeaneum” is an open structure flooded from all sides by light, similar to the way stones in the sea near the water’s edge are flooded by the surrounding water. The museum’s particular shape and prominent location on the promenade make it an attractive and memorable feature in Stralsund’s urban silhouette and city image.
The building comprises four major exhibition sections. This arrangement assures the successful integration of Ozeaneum into the surrounding historic architecture. The height of new structures responds to that of existing buildings. New structures were aligned with neighboring buildings either by staggering the surface area of some upper stories, or, wherever technically feasible, by flattening them.
The design of each section of the Ozeaneum was essentially led by the building’s functional requirements. The aquaria are set around a central core of maintenance and technical amenities. This optimizes the use of space, shortens timeframes for the daily feeding and care of marine stock, and also offers visitors a neat circuit of the inner aquarium core. The outer form of the building corresponds to the trace of the tours, which lead visitors from the aquaria to the exhibition areas, through the “Giants of the Sea” display, and then back to the foyer, from where they may embark on an alternate tour.
While the separate elements of the building were inspired by stones in the water, the exterior is reminiscent of sails in an ocean breeze as they wind their way around the façades of both the exhibition and aquarium sections. The large, pre-formed steel sheets called for ship-building technology indigenous to this port city. They are secured at isolated points on the building’s steel frame, without any further structural support; overhangs are braced yet appear to be freestanding. The steel sheeting’s surface was treated with several coats of highly resilient white paint to create a further connection between the building and its maritime environment. The white façade draws together the various sections of the building, weaving manifold buildings together and giving them a strong, unified profile.
The main entrance to the Ozeaneum lies on the new harbor promenade. The ground floor of the foyer—a self-contained area distinct from the exhibition areas and accessible to non-ticket holders—accommodates a shop and a café, as well as the museum’s front-of-house services. A 30-meter suspended escalator diagonally traverses the entire breadth of the foyer, past genuine whale skeletons, to bring visitors to the upper floor. From there, a splendid view opens across the Strela Sound and the new Rugen Bridge to Rugen Island.
Three exhibition levels, oriented to the sea, illustrate the oceans of the world, the Baltic Sea, and marine research and resources. Two aquaria devoted to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea are set on the inland side of the museum complex.
The centrepiece of the North Sea Aquarium is the tank of schooling fish, which contains nearly 2.6 million liters of water. Its glass front offers visitors remarkable insight into the infinity of the sea. The upper floor of the North Sea Aquarium accommodates the children’s exhibit, which will be enhanced later by the addition of a rooftop penguin compound.
In the “Giants of the Sea” exhibition, visitors are confronted by life-size replicas of whales, evoking an impression of being able to splash about underwater with the planet’s biggest creatures. The dimly lit room is designed to plunge visitors into an experience of the infinite depths of underwater worlds.
One of the three historic warehouses on the site was incorporated in the Ozeaneum. The warehouse—with much of its historical materials still in place—accommodates the museum administration, a multi-purpose hall for educational projects, a self-contained, multi-purpose hall for public events and, a café.
+ Project credits
Stefan Behnisch, Hon. FAIA, BDA, RIBA, CIMA, partner
David Cook, RIBA, partner
Martin Haas, partner
Elke Reichel, project architect
Peter Schlaier, project architect
Jakob Fürniß, project team
Sebastian Wockenfuß, project team
Antonella Sgobba, project team
Florian Kneer, project team
Berthold Jungblut, project team
Katja Knaus, project team
Jörg Knaus, project team
Michael Kern, project team
David Mrugala, project team
Location: Stralsund, Germany
Size: 186,215 square feet
Project Consultant: Stadterneuerungsgesellschaft mbH, Stralsund
Site Supervisors: ARGE Schnittger PG, Stralsund; AIU Stralsund GmbH, Stralsund
Structural Engineer: Schweitzer GmbH Beratende Ingenieure, Saarbrücken
Stress Analyst: Dr. Zauft, Potsdam
Energy Concept: Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH, Stuttgart
Exhibition Designers: Atelier Lohrer, Stuttgart; Argea Fassbender & Heppert, Stralsund
Signage/Graphic Systems: Ockert und Partner, Stuttgart
Landscape Design: Nagel, Schonhoff & Partner, Hannover; with Behnisch Architekten
Fire Prevention: TÜV Nord Systems GmbH, Hamburg
Aquaria Technology: Ingenieurbüro Joecks, Stralsund
Ventilation/Air Conditioning: Schreiber Ingenieure Gebäudetechnik GmbH, Ulm
Sanitary: Ingenieurbüro Thomas Engelbrecht, Stralsund
Heating: INROS Lackner AG, Rostock
Structural Physics: Ingenieurbüro Horstmann + Berger, Altensteig
Lighting/Electrical Installations: Ingenieurbüro Walter Bamberger, Pfünz bei Eichstätt
Electrical/Communications Systems; Lifts/Conveyors: AIU Stralsund GmbH, Stralsund
Central Building Control Systems: Ingenieurbüro Uwe Trepping, Bergen
Façade Consultancy: EURO-Fassadentechnik GmbH, Bad Hersfeld
Gastronomy: Citti Grossküchentechnik, Hamburg
Area Calculation: Ingenieurbüro Sven Kleinert, Stralsund
Timber Expert (for the historic warehouse): Sachverständigenbüro Helmut Metzner, Negast
Surveyor: Krawutschke.Meißner.Schönemann, Stralsund
Flood Protection: Umweltplan GmbH, Stralsund
Preparatory Site Development: Ingenieurbüro Küchler GmbH, Stralsund
Soil Analysis: Baugrund Stralsund, Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Stralsund
Photographer: Johannes-Maria Schlorke & Roland Halbe
+ About architect, Behnisch Architekten (previously known as Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner)
Behnisch Architekten is a leader in creating distinctive architectural solutions that are environmentally sustainable. The Stuttgart, Germany-based architecture and planning firm maintains U.S. offices in Venice, CA, and Boston, MA. Stefan Behnisch, Hon. FAIA, RIBA, BDA, CIMA, is principal partner, along with partners David Cook, RIBA, Martin Haas, and Christof Jantzen, AIA, who oversees US operations.
“Ecology.Design.Synergy,” an exhibition of Behnisch Architekten’s projects, toured Europe in 2007, and continues its North American tour through 2010.