project: voestalpine Steelworld Brand Museum
location: Linz, Austria
designer: KMS TEAM and jangled nerves
“Light and color are key elements of the experience at the new, interactive voestalpine Stahlwelt (voestalpine Steelworld) Brand Museum,” says Michael Keller, managing partner at KMS TEAM and creative director behind the futuristic design project for the Linz, Austria-based steel company voestalpine. In 1995, voestalpine grew to become a global organization and expanded to include services beyond basic steel production. The company needed to reacquaint itself with the local community, as well as educate the public on its new brand image.
“The main aspect we wanted to present was voestalpine’s full history. Where we stand on the value chain, it was important for us to give a comprehensive view from the raw material processes up to complex customer solutions,” says Gerhard Kürner, head of corporate communications at voestalpine Eurostahl.
The towering shell of the new building features an array of color-changing, LEDs that envelope a molecular structure of 80 floating steel balls of varying sizes and measure up to more than 8 ft. in diameter. Select individual spheres serve as walk-in terminals with platforms for visitors to get an inside view of steel production, while interactive handrails and a vertical conveyor belt add to the attraction.
Visitors immediately are greeted by a breathtaking, 7,500-sq.-ft. spatial installation of the “crucible,” dubbed as such due to its similitude to a steel plant crucible. Throughout the four levels of the building, guests continue to learn about the history of the company, as well as the material steel and the craft of steel making, via “knowledge” exhibitions that create a tangible presentation. The first exhibit of its kind, voestalpine Steelworld primarily is directed to business-to-business clients. (Kürner would prefer not to use the word “museum,” which to him infers a sense of “oldness.”)
According to Keller, voestalpine’s goal is not only to inform the visitor about the company and the material steel, but also to enable the visitor to experience the world of steel. “The city of Linz and voestalpine are very closely connected,” he says. “The aim was to clarify this connection with the brand museum through an exhibition that appeals to very different audiences interested in the material steel—from employees and former employees, to the people of Linz, to school groups and visitors from around the world.”
Project: voestalpine Steelworld Brand Museum. Client/owner: voestalpine AG. Interior designer: KMS TEAM; Michael Keller (managing partner, creation); Armin Schlamp (managing partner, consulting); Christian P. Árkay-Leliever (managing partner); Birgit Rose Vogel (team manager, design); Marc Ziegler (team manager, design); Susana Frau (designer); Moritz Pongratz (designer); Katrin Schiese (project manager); Wahan Mechitarian (technical consultant). Lighting: Wilfried Kresiment. Engineering: Rudi Hennies. Kitchen. Graphics: KMS TEAM, jangled nerves. Photographer: Michael Haegele.
Location: Linz, Austria. Total floor area: about 1,500 sq. m., building volume 15,000 sq. m. No. of floors: 6. Average floor size: 200 sq. m.