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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Munich: A Farewell to Germany

So the last stop on the German leg of the tour is Munich, one of the largest cities in the country. We looked at a lot of different types of buildings, everything from stadiums to modern churches to museums. The city had a lot to offer and our last chance to get our taste of Germany.

Allianz Arena

The two stadiums we looked at could not be any different from each other. The first was on the ride in to the city where we looked at Allianz Arena by Herzog and De Meuron. The firm is known for their elaborate skins and this was no different. The stadium is host to the soccer team and almost looks like a deflated soccer ball. The plastic like exterior bulges out and gives an almost transparent appearance which works well at night when the stadium is lit in the colors of red and blue for the soccer team. This white skin is attached to a concrete frame by metal anchors which are visible when walking up the staircases. Unfortunately the insides were blocked off so we did not get to look at the field set up, but at least the outside had a lot to offer.

The second stadium on the list involved a long and painful trek up a mountain to look at the Olympic Stadium of Munich. From up top you could really see how the Olympic grounds were laid out as well as the rest of the city. What’s special about this stadium is the unique tent structure that is carried out. A large arc is laid out and anchored to the ground with massive concrete structures. The rest of the tent is hung to steel columns that span from the ground and hold the points in tension. These columns are placed all over the grounds and really interact with visitors by becoming part of the path. There are many times when you enter the stadium or pass from one event to another that you are sheltered by these soaring glass panels.

Munich Olympic Stadium
The hostel is Munich did turn out to be a little rough. It seems that every hostel we stay at, the majority of the other residents get younger and younger. Most of the ones in Munich were about freshman in high school and were very noisy in the halls at night. The internet once again proved to be an issue as the wifi in this hotel didn’t seem to ever work. Much in the internet time in Europe has come from sketchy internet cafes or closed Starbucks. I would have really thought that technology like wifi would have been more prominent over here.

Speaking of technology, one place that had no problem showing it off was BMW world. Basically the headquarters of BMW, the complex stretches a couple blocks and consist of a manufacturing plant, museum and tower. The facade and interior of the museum are compromised mostly of brushed aluminum and glass. The intention of the building is clear; it seeks to grab your attention and tried to do so in flashy ways which in some points are a disadvantage. Customers purchasing their cars here are able to drive in from the museum to the outside as visitors are able to watch. There are many of exhibits of display, but the building itself may be geared more for car enthusiast over architecture. It is a really nice environment in parts but feels over done as a whole. The highlight is the glass funnel on the outside that also showcases some exhibits and catches the light rather well.

BMW World Museum
Germany was a very interesting place and I feel like I really learned a lot from it, but I honestly feel like I am ready to move on. I’m really excited about the upcoming cities and we still have a lot of places to go. Currently I am in Switzerland after a short retreat in Austria. I've spent most o my day at the Vals Thermal Spa...it's hard work but someone has to do it.

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