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Phanomenta Science Centre

  • Phanomenta Science Centre
  • Phanomenta Science Centre
  • Phanomenta Science Centre
  • Phanomenta Science Centre

German design firm KKK Architekten, with the collaboration of Werner Bauingenieure and formTL Ingenieure, has designed the extension of the Phänomenta Science Centre in Lüdenscheid, a city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Based on a feasibility study made by Schneider + Schumacher, the enlargement includes a 75-metre-tall tower built with a mesh of triangulated metal trusses wrapping an internally tensed helicoid PVC membrane. Raised on a double-height concrete monolith containing exhibition galleries, the structure is conceived on the principle of putting a tower inside a tower, with a Foucault pendulum at the core.
The tower is just one part of the extension to Phanomenta. A two-storey extension creates an additional 1,400 m2 of exhibition space and zones characterised by expressive forms. This is directly as a result of the requirements of the tower's geometry but it also ensures the functionality of the exhibition space. The monolithic design of the concrete building also serves as the foundation for the distinctive steel structure. The helix PVC membrane inside the steelwork supporting structure appears delicate and light.

The helix consists of just three structural components: 990 m² of PVC membrane, three structural cables and nine anchoring rods with clamps. These elements are sufficient to enable the membrane to adhere to the rotating and vertically tapered tower structure. While the calculated maximum form guarantees collision clearance from the outer tower tubes, the calculated minimum form prevents disturbances with the inner pendulum structure. The curved helix structure has a particularly striking effect at night, when the back-lit seams of the membrane and the shadows of the ropes converge upwards to form a cone shape, lending the tower an even loftier appearance.

The Foucault pendulum suspended from the secondary bearing structure not only helps visitors to “experience” the rotation of the Earth. The exhibition space below, designed by designers from Beier+Wellach Projekte, is home to the stunning Phänorama, a 360º-projection of Lüdenscheid and the surrounding area, that is controlled by the oscillation duration of the 30m-long pendulum similar to an oversized kaleidoscope.

Architects | KKW Architekten, Lüdenscheid with
Werner Bauingenieure, Unna, Germany 
FormTL, Kesselhaus, Germany 
Location | Lüdenscheid, Germany
Technical info | PVC membrane
Picture credits | Trillian, Pressestelle Stadt LÅdenscheid, Alexander Ring, Wiped, E-Komm