COOP HIMMELB(L)AU BMW Welt project records

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU BMW Welt project records

Part of


  • COOP HIMMELB(L)AU (archive creator)
  • COOP HIMMELB(L)AU (architectural firm)
  • Wolf Prix (architect)
  • Paul Kath (architect)
  • Tom Wiscombe (architect)


COOP HIMMELB(L)AU BMW Welt project records

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • Approximately 52,430 digital files (166 GB),
  • 52 study models

Scope and Content

The COOP HIMMELB(L)AU BMW Welt project records, 1994-2015, documents the design development and the construction of BMW Welt, an event and delivery center for the automotive company based in Munich, Germany. Materials were predominantly created between 2003 and 2006, and consist of approximately 52,400 digital files and 52 physical models demonstrating how the firm achieve the construction of this complex building.

BMW held a competition in 2001 for an event and delivery center that would “create a sustained emotional bond between the BMW world and the general public” and “become the architectural showcase of the BMW brand.” The location chosen for BMW Welt is adjacent to the company’s headquarters, the BMW Museum (both designed by Karl Schwanzer), the original BMW factory, and the Munich Olympic Park. Twenty-seven architectural firms were selected in the first phase of the competition, among 272 applications, and eight firms were retained for the second phase. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU and Sauerbruch Hutton, from Berlin, both won first prize and went through a third phase to determine which design would be built. COOP HIMMELB(L)AU's proposal won, and construction for the building started in 2003 and was completed in 2007.

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s proposed design suggests a hovering cloud with a double cone as the main anchor or source of the cloud. It is also described as a “frozen hurricane with the rooftop as ensuing clouds.” This elaborate roof covers a large interior open space, approximately the size of Venice’s Piazza San Marco. In addition to the cone, the roof is supported by eleven columns, and three smaller infrastructures hosting parts of the program. There are exhibition areas, restaurants, shops, an auditorium, a business center, and a delivery center where clients can learn about their new car before leaving the building with it.

Usage of CAD tools eased the design, development, and building of some challenging elements of BMW Welt. For example, water circulates in the steel structure for climate control and the fire-safety system, and the roof acts as a solar-energy power-plant. This work was done in close collaboration with the engineers from Bollinger + Grohman and additional specialized consultants. Numerous firms were involved at different stages of the project to ensure that the BMW Welt would be a state of the art building. The construction documentation and administration was conducted by Schmitt, Stumpf, Frühauf + Partner, from Munich.

Based on conversations between CCA and COOP HIMMELB(L)AU staff, as well as conversations between Greg Lynn and other stakeholders of the project, it appears that digital records document the competition phase only indirectly. This is confirmed by an assessment of the records’ dates where less than 2000 files seem to have been created by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU shortly prior to or at the time of the competition.

As such, digital records mostly document the development, planning, and construction phases of the project. The higher-levels of the directory structure are organized according to planning elements (Administration, Design, Material collection, Consultants, etc.) for the project, and not according to the project’s phases or chronological development. Dates of records are generally indicated in lower-level directory names or in the filenames. Records’ organization provide significant context to their creation and use by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU and their partners.

Digital records consist of building documentation in the form of 2D plans and 3D models; visual reference documentation; presentations and reports on the project, its evolution, and its components; meeting agendas and other administrative documentation; suppliers and product documentation; photographs of an oversized model; etc. There is also reference documentation on the file naming structure of directories and file names, lists, templates, and guidelines for the use of CAD files for this project.

CAD files were exchanged with consultants in order to develop and finalize the various aspects of the design. Consultants included structural engineers, electrical engineers, interior designers, and planers. Directories related to those exchanges are in file AP181.S1.006 Consultants files for construction planning phase, BMW Welt, Munich, and chiefly contain drawings in various formats (CAD, PDF, JPG, plotter files, etc.) as well as some lists of the plans.

Records also include videos, mainly consisting of animations and engineering simulations (both seemingly derived from CAD tools), and a video that was shown at the Venice Biennale. Also included is the video made by Imaginary Forces to show BMW the magnitude of the project , using a 6 meter model. The end-result was shown to BMW executives on an 8 x10 meter screen. Some preliminary video work is also part of the records.

Reference Number


Physical Description

All models were rehoused and labels from their original container were transferred to the new container. Most models in the collection had mould stains and were treated by the CCA’s conservation team. Some models are fragile and must be handled with caution. This fonds contains a number of born-digital files in CAD and 3D modeling formats. Due to the complex and often proprietary nature of CAD formats, proper rendering and use of these files may require highly specific software. CCA’s dedicated Study Room CAD workstation is loaded with a wide but incomplete range of such software. For further information about services and software available for interacting with obsolete or niche file formats, please contact Collection Reference (reference@cca.qc.ca) and ask to speak with the Digital Archivist.


Digital records were transferred by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU to CCA on an external hard drive. They were copied to the media from the firm’s shared networks files. Records were organized by the design team at the time of their creation.

CCA archivist retained the digital files’ structure and arranged them along with the models under one Series: AP181.S1: BMW Welt development and construction records

For digital records, file-level description corresponds to highest level directories. A single file-level description was created for all the models, and each model has an item-level description derived from their identification label, and the information found in the records.

Administrative history

Founded in 1968 in Vienna by Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU is still active in the domains of architecture, urbanism, design and art. Michael Holzer left the firm in 1971, and Helmut Swiczinsky retired in 2001 from daily operations and from the office altogether in 2006. As of 2018, Wolf D. Prix remains COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Design Principal and CEO. Karolin Schmidbaur (Design Partner), Harald Krieger (CFO) and Markus Prossnigg (Managing Partner) complete the executive direction team. Over the years, offices were opened in various cities around the world: Los Angeles (1988), Frankfurt, Paris, London, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Beijing and Baku.

As early as 1968, the idea of a cloud-like architecture has been present in COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s designs with projects such as The Cloud and Villa Rosa. The firm became more prominently known in the 1980s with projects such as Rooftop Remodeling Falkestraße in Vienna (1983-1988), and their entry for the international town planning competition for the City of Melun-Sénart in France (1986). Significant built projects include: SEG Apartment Tower (1998) and SEG Apartment Block Remise (2000) in Vienna; Apartment Building Gasometer B in Vienna (2001); design for the EXPO.02—Forum Arteplage in Biel, Switzerland (2002); the Academy of Fine Arts (2005) and the BMW Welt (2007) in Munich, Germany; the Akron Art Museum in Ohio, USA (2007); Busan Cinema Center in Busan, South Korea (2011); the Dalian International Conference Center in China (2012); Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France (2014); and the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2014).

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU have received several awards, among which are the Förderungspreis für Baukunst, Berlin (1982); the Award of the City of Vienna for Architecture (1988) for the Rooftop Remodeling project; the Progressive Architecture/P. A. Award (1989, 1990, 1991); the Großer Österreichischer Staatspreis (1999); the American Architecture Award (2005) and the RIBA International Award (2008) for the Akron Art Museum; the International Architecture Award (2014) for the Dalian International Conference Center; and the IES Illumination Award for Outdoor Lighting Design (2017) for the MOCAPE project.

The BMW Welt project itself received 5 prizes: the RIBA European Award (2008); the Preis des Deutachn Stahlbaues (2008); the World Architecture Festival Award: Production (2008); the Wallpaper Design Award 2009: Best New Public Building; Detail Prize 2009: Innovation Steel; and the Dedalo Minosse International Prize (2011). It was the topic of various publications including Dynamic Forces, BMW WELT Munich (Prestel Verlag, 2007) BMW Event and Delivery Center – Architectural Competition (Aedes East Forum, 2002), and Coop Himmelb(l)au – BMW Welt, München (Edition Axel Menges, 2009).

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU have exhibited their work in “Construire le Ciel” at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1992; “COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. Beyond the Blue” at the MAK Vienna (2007-2008) and at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2009); “COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: Future revisited” in 2009 at the NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo; “Architecture is the Media and the Media is the Message” at the Design Center in Busan (2011); and in 2012, the Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin presented the “COOP HIMMELB(L)AU: 7+ Wolf D. Prix & Partner Projects Models Plans Sketches Statements” exhibition.

Early on, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s works were included in “Deconstructivist Architecture” at the MOMA in New York in 1988. Additionally, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s designs were presented at the Venice Biennale and the Aedes East Gallery in Berlin. The firm designed several exhibitions, including “Paradise Cage: Kiki Smith and COOP HIMMELB(L)AU ” in 1996 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles


COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. “Biography – COOP HIMMELB(L)AU”. http://www.coop-himmelblau.at/studio/profile/ Accessed January 2019

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU on 6 October 2014.

Custodial history

Prior to their transfer to the CCA, the material in this archive was kept in the offices of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU in Vienna, Austria. The first accession was sent directly from the firm’s office and consisted of three crates containing the study models. The second accession consisted of an external hard drive onto which the firm had copied much of the project’s digital archive from their servers. Written documents such as official correspondence, transcripts, contracts, and financial records were not copied from COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s servers.

These records were acquired by CCA as part of the Archaeology of the Digital project. Selected items were displayed in the show Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention, May-October 2016.

Archivist's note

  • A single-level record for this archive was created by Digital Archivist Tessa Walsh in July 2016. The archive was fully processed and described by Mireille Nappert, Digital Processing Archivist, in 2018-2019.

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:
COOP HIMMELB(L)AU BMW Welt project records,
Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material


Related units of description

  • The CCA library holdings have numerous publications related to BMW Welt and to COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, including Dynamic Forces, BMW WELT Munich (Prestel Verlag, 2007) BMW Event and Delivery Center – Architectural Competition (Aedes East Forum, 2002), and Coop Himmelb(l)au – BMW Welt, München (Edition Axel Menges, 2009). As part of the Archeology of the Digital series of exhibitions, interviews were conducted with the architects and published in an ePub format: Canadian Centre for Architecture. Archaeology of the Digital 23: Coop Himmelb(l)au, BMW Welt, ed. Greg Lynn (2017), 978-1-927071-40-3. As of 2019, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU is still an active firm and retains custody of their records for their other projects.

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