Sharp edges and floating lines, wood and stainless steel, lights and shadows: Wolf D. Prix’ Wunderkammer des Brotes is ​​a game of contrasts

The building that houses the Paneum is a project by COOPHIMME(L)BLAU, an architecture firm based in Vienna, with offices in Europe and the United States that for almost 50 years, has revolutionized all rules and swept away many preconceptions, offering bold, biting, sometimes disquieting works, often capable of overthrowing standard notions of archietcture.

The Paneum – the new bread museum in the Austrian village of Asten, in the Linz-Land district, is no different.

Commissioned by Backaldrin, the leading manufacturer of baking products in Austria, the Paneum – Wunderkammer des Brotes bread museum and event center, is an extraordinary architecture consisting of two elements: a box-shaped plinth building, which houses the foyer and the event rooms, and a two-story freeform exhibition area that reminisces a tornado that sprouts in the sky, a wild cloud or perhaps – in plain English – a well-balanced dough.

Two elements of contrasting forms, therefore – monolithic and squared the first, sinuous and fluctuating the second – as well as contrasting are the materials that make up them: cast-in-place concrete facade for the base building, while the rounded wood structure of the museum is clad with stainless steel shingles.

The concept from which Wolf D. Prix started with his team is based on the idea of the German Wunderkammer, or the sixteenth-century cabinet of curiosities, the place where collectors kept their wonders. Concept that fits perfectly to unusual and small objects such as those of a museum that tells of bakery products and bread.

The heart of the Wunderkammer des Brotes, the exhibition building, consists of a circular atrium, enclosed by a spiral staircase that allows visitors to admire the exhibited items from various perspectives. Through the staircase, it is possible to access both museum levels, where objects are arranged in cases or shelves integrated in the architecture. The atrium enjoys natural light coming from above.

From within is clearly visible the self-supporting wood shell that constitutes the museum area, composed of layered circles of cross laminated timber.

For the construction of this revolutionary building, the Austrian firm has made use of the most advanced technologies, including latest-generation numerical control machines capable of optimizing execution times.

Photo credit: Markus Pillhofer