15,000m2 Museum in Maribor Slovenia, EPK Drava 2012 Competition, January-February 2010

This building includes an art museum, a children’s museum, an architecture center, various gastronomic entities, and 25 artist studios with four apartments. To solve this architectural program riddle, we experimented with the magic square of Albrecht Dürer’s etching Melancholia I. Dürers square consist of 4x4 fields, while ours has 5x5, which reflects the five-part program.

The original two-dimensional square is turned into a three-dimensional one. Each one of the 25 fields has a length and width of 15 meters, therefore the whole square is 75x75 meters, which fits perfectly on the site. In height, every unit is one meter. Every field is now three-dimensional, a volume with the same footprint and different heights. The volumes are connected on various levels, and every volume houses a distinct programmatic function.

The highest volume, [25] is the central lobby, which unites all aspects of the building. A wide staircase meanders from the parking garage to the ground floor public piazza, continuing up through a split reception area for the art museum, leading to a landing for the children’s museum to arrive at the main information desk offering astonishing views over the city, the mountains and the Drava River.

The volumes hover above a grand piazza flooded by sunlight passing through open fields. This is to allow maximum passage and vistas; inviting people for gatherings and happenings and enhancing the urban fabric. Almost all roof levels are accessible to museum visitors, playing children, and restaurant guests. The roof is landscaped forming a three-dimensional sculpture park. The structure leaves room for play, and offers surprising perspectives of the surrounding environment.

This building should be made out of in-situ concrete using gravel from different regions of the Drava River, sharp stones form the Dolomites and round pebbles from the partnering Danube, and even from the Black Sea. Self-cleansing white Istrian stone is used for the pavement and the facade outside. Below the building, geothermal wells capture sustainable energy not only for the museum itself, but for the neighborhood as well.

Project team: Will Orlando, Pino Pavese, Miriam Waltz, Eva Sommeregger, Rodolfo Diaz, various advisors

Winning entry of the Swiss Art Awards in the category of architecture, exhibited during Art Basel 2010

5x5 Magic Square for Maribor