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HOLZER KOBLER ARCHITEKTUREN GErMANy PAlÄon Holzer Kobler Architekturen Formed in Zürich in 2004 by Barbara Holzer and Tristan Kobler, the office operates internationally, covering a broad spectrum of activities from urban planning to architecture and from scenography to exhibition curatorship. A multidisciplinary team comprising architects, designers, graphic artists, and curators shapes its special approach to projects. Close collaboration with clients in both public and private sectors is integral to their projects, as is a tightly knit network encompassing business, academia, research, arts, and culture. www.holzerkobler.com Dating back some 300 000 years, the Schöningen Spears are the oldest, completely intact hunting weapons discovered to date. The impressive Paläon Research and Experience Center is located on the major archaeological site where they were discovered, at the edge of an opencast lignite mine. The building forms a landmark in this undulating landscape, which is mirrored in the structure’s reflective exterior. The interactive exhibition of artifacts recovered from Schöningen shows history about our ancestors, Homo erectus, and their everyday lives, as well as how the flora and fauna looked 300 000 years ago. The exhibition also considers current topics like climate change and sustainability. The Paläon was a nominee for the 2013 German Façade Prize, and it won the 2014 Best Design Concept at the AIT International Retail and Presentation Awards. The three-story structure and the angular paths extending from it present interesting views from many perspectives while their vectors partition the landscape. A second, curving path system integrates these features into the surroundings. The building appears as a kind of camouflage, as a hyperrealistic abstraction of the landscape. The Paläon seems almost to be a part of the surrounding meadows, woods, and sky as the trees, grass, and clouds continue seamlessly in its reflective surface – a perfect visual integration. The large, angular openings in the building’s exterior afford extensive and fascinating views over the excavation site and the lignite mine, as well as of the nearby woodland and Przewalski’s horses grazing in the meadow. The expressive architecture reflects on both the surrounding artificial and natural landscape features, making the structure an eloquent landmark for Schöningen. On the inside, the white sculpture inspired by the skeleton of a horse is central to the exhibition’s staging. This enlarged, abstract sculptural element forms an architectural ensemble with the other objects in the room, interacting visually with the juxtaposed theme cabinets and large-format artwork. The visitors’ laboratory gives laymen the opportunity to solve an archaeological riddle using modern methods while the archaeologists’ own, professional laboratory and workspaces are situated alongside the exhibition route and can be viewed by visitors.