We certainly didn’t waste any time during our latest Speedhunting trip to Munich. It all started in the wee hours of the AM on Monday morning when we drove from our Hotel in Imola 200 km or so up to Venice to catch our early flight to Munich. The first stop, after picking up two press cars (more on this later), was to be the mighty BMW Welt, an impressive architectural feat constructed on the outskirts of the city…
…right opposite the BMW “four-cylinder” HQ building and BMW Museum. Here is Rod grabbing a long tele shot of the BMW logo perched high on the top of the structure. This has been BMW’s HQ since the building was inaugurated in 1973, but it was actually finished for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
On the large open space in front of the main pavilion we even spotted the almost-complete line up of BMW models!
The underground car park under the BMW Welt was the perfect place to drop off the cars we had picked up for the week, here is Rod’s overpowered 135i…
…parked up next to the metallic black M5 I was riding in. We had tons of fun with these beasts, but they deserve their own post so I will get to them in the next few days.
A spot of lunch followed, a very healthy selection from Rod, not so much for me as I preferred to go with a more typical local dish (well Austrian actually!) in the form of a nice slab of wiener schnitzel.
Our tour began with a general overview of the massive building which was designed Professor Wolf D. Prix and the architecture firm Coophimmelb(l)au.
The design is meant to represent a tornado spiraling upwards, beginning with the twisted glass structure, which opens up towards the sky, eventualy becoming the roof of the main building space. Solar panels cover the roof area and are able to develop up to 800 kW of power.
Here key cars from the BMW lineup are displayed, allowing customers to wonder around and check them out up close like this brand new X1, the first one I have seen.
If you like what you see you can ask the staff members to open the car for you so you can try it on for size or simply take a closer look inside.
BMW branded apparel can be found in the shop on the lower level, anything from t-shirts and caps to M-sport wheels and model cars.
Running across the middle of the building is a contorted bridge structure which connects the lower level to the top floor where the restaurant and exhibition halls are located. Stainless steel panels are used throughout the building both on the inside and outside to highlight the futuristic architecture.
On top of the 11 concrete columns that support the roof structure there are also 4 elevator shafts that act as supporting structures.
The foundation stone was laid down on the 16th of July 2004, and acts as a sort of time capsule where newspapers and various artifacts from the city of Munich were sealed inside, hence why it is not actually part of the structure but more a display item encased into the floor.
BMW Welt is the perfect place to use for presentations or events and the arena we were shown was just as impressive as the rest of the building. Each of the strips you can see in the flooring can be electronically lifted to create separate spaces or even arena-type seating. The cealing is decked out with tons of electronically controlled lighting, projectors and what looked like a pretty potent sound system.
Like Rod touched on with his Speedhunting in Munich post, one of the main purposes of the BMW Welt is the customer car pick up. This is handled in an area right in the center of the interior, where cars to be delivered are positioned for the new owners to pick up. The actual procedure can be customized to the client’s requirements and can include a factory tour and a visit to the museum across the street where one can appreciate BMW’s vast history.
Before being delivered, the cars are taken to the BMW Welt where they are checked over, cleaned and polished and stored in a temporary automated parking system. As the client arrives the cars are automatically unloaded from storage and taken up to the delivery area via a large elevator system…
…and placed on one of many rotating platforms. As the new owner makes his way down the stairs from the lounge “up in the sky” his new pride and joy begins to rotate in all its glory. It was one of Professor Prix’s visions to have the customer descend the stairs from the lounge, “making his way down from the clouds.” Gotta love all this PR talk!
While we were observing from the bridge we saw one happy customer drive his 3-series convertible down the ramp and off out of the building.
BMW offers an “Individual” service, where customers can customize aspects of their cars rendering it a totally unique machine. You can notice the black piping on the leather seats in the interior of the new 7-series above….and those impossibly cool Eames lounge chairs.
In the Junior Campus children are given a chance exercise to their minds with fun games and reflect on the subject of mobility.
In the workshop they can design their own cars out of cardboard which are then displayed on a conveyor belt.
One thing I really liked was the car configurator where you can create your own BMW on the massive screen…
..after you have had a chance see the colors on offer up close…
…as well as the selection of leather for the seats and interior trim.
The “tornado” part of the structure serves as a smaller separate display hall where presentations and events are held. They were setting up a display for the new 5-series GT when we went to check it out. The walkway that spirals up connects to the bridge that takes you inside the main building as well as the BMW HQ and Museum on the other side of the street.
The spiraling glass structure meets with the sealing, or the “cloud,” and from here spreads across the main pavilion area. Curiously every piece of glass is of different size and shape due to the complicated design.
It was the first time I saw the 5-series GT up close. It seemed to have a very luxurious interior but apart from that it didn’t set my pulse racing. One interesting thing is that the 535i GT will sport a new configuration of the straight six turbocharged lump, using only one turbocharger instead of the sequential blowers used in other models.
After spending some time driving the 135i I have really come to like the big-engine in small-car configuration but really felt disappointed at the lack of LSD out back. Maybe this M-sport version we saw outside BMW Welt addresses this problem, it also had an aggressive front and rear bumper and a small carbon lip spoiler.
Our final visit to the BMW Welt was a nice and relaxing dinner at the restaurant on the second floor. We were joined by Patrick Ritzman, a driver competing in the IDS and Alok who was helping us with some driving shots earlier on in the day. Stay tuned for a visit at the BMW Museum.
Dino Dalle Carbonare