Driver assistance systems, including automatic parking, traffic sign recognition and automatic distance control are increasingly common in today’s cars. The new ‘Ausfahrt’ at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg offers visitors an opportunity to try out these and other technical assistance systems in models manufactured by Volkswagen to help ensure safer driving in road traffic. With an area of 15,000 square metres, the new driving attraction was built in ten months and opened in August 2013.
GRAFT was commissioned to create a separate area where buyers of new cars can familiarise themselves with the new functions without the pressure of everyday traffic. The space needed to be sheltered from rain and direct sunlight, while permitting sufficient daylight to obviate the need for expensive and unnecessary artificial lighting.
GRAFT’s concept is based on the idea of a leaf lying on the ground, its organic form sheltering the landscape beneath it (designed by WES-Landschaftsarchitektur). To adequately capture this idea, the architecture needed to be as lightweight as possible. The roof employs a structural principle to rest on just two points, so that it appears to lie on the ground defining a sheltered space beneath it. The approximately 130-ton steel construction – designed by schlaich bergermann partner – is borne by two concrete foundations, anchored 20 metres into the ground.
The arching gesture of the roof and its orientation makes a welcoming gesture, its elegant, graceful geometry creating a connection between above and below, between sky and landscape.
All ancillary functions are hosed in the accompanying service pavilion: customers can receive assistance about their new car, purchase accessories or book other attractions and activities in the Autostadt. To avoid detracting from the impression of the roof as a resting leaf, the pavilion is embedded in the landscape rather than articulated as a separate building. The design of the interior in turn echoes specific aspects of the roof.