OMA's ZKM project is the prime example of a project that achieved the highest relevance but was never built.
In 1989, the then rather unknown Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) won the competition for the ZKM (Center for Art and Media) in Karlsruhe. Conceived as a radical cultural institution, OMA's design for the new ZKM embodied radical approaches to architecture. Although the new "Electronic Bauhaus," originally to be built at Karlsruhe's main train station, was never realized, it embodied core ideas from Rem Koolhaas's later manifesto, "Bigness, or the Problem of Large," which are still part of the recent architectural canon. Since the City Council's decision to cancel the new project in 1992, the ZKM has been located in the IWKA, the former largest munitions factory in Germany.
A seminar at the Department of Raum+Entwerfen of the KIT Faculty of Architecture examined the development of this highly influential project during the critical years between 1989 and 1992: How did the design change during this time? What influence did public opinion and politics have on the demolition of the project? How did its architectural history evolve? How did the design become as influential as it did? Where can we find its architectural traces today? The goal was to identify the main actors that influenced public opinion and to show the crucial moments of decision-making that led to the death of the ZKM design. The forensic reappraisal of the process from the birth to the death of the project was presented in a diagram inspired by Marc Lombardi, mapping political influences, interpersonal relationships, and project and cost developments that ultimately led to the abandonment of the project, thus showing a new reality than the one presented in the media at the time.