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Hadid triumphs in Germany with 'magic box'

The Office of Zaha Hadid has beaten stiff competition including Wilkinson Eyre, Enric Miralles, Toyo Ito and Dominique Perrault Architecte to win the job to design this £11 million science centre for the city of Wolfsburg in Germany.

The practice, which was one of seven invited practices (20 more were shortlisted) came up with a basic idea of a 'magic box', in a triangular table-like structure. Some of the cone-shaped 'legs' of that 'table', explained architect Janne Westermann, will be made of transparent glass in order to show the functions within. These functions include the two main entrances and a shop, through which visitors to the centre proceed to the main concourse level. Another leg will be a lecture hall and three of them which 'fuse' to form a big exhibition level under the main concourse level. The main structure will be built of reinforced concrete, the outer skin of which will be used as a screen for projections. A 'smooth carpet' of light will shine beneath the building to emphasise the truncated volumes. Inside, illuminated focal points will lead the visitor to the exhibits - 70 per cent will be in darkness.

Wolfsburg is about an hour west of Berlin by train and is chiefly known for being the home of Volkswagen. The Science Centre - which will be most akin to the Science Museum in London - will be built alongside the railway and serve as a connector between two key parts of the city. Beyond the railway and a canal, linked by a pedestrian bridge, a new 'vw town' is being built - a complex of new facilities geared around cultural events, a hotel, and car storage.

The old vw factory, which is still in use, is adjacent. Hadid's science centre will link all of these disparate elements to Wolfsburg's inner city. The structural engineer is Adams Kara Taylor, services engineer Ove Arup and the building is expected to be ready in 2002.

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