Munich architecture of the 21st century

Architectural highlights from A to Z

Munich has much more to offer architecturally than its time-honoured buildings in the late Gothic and Classicist styles. Just think of the spectacular tent-roof architecture of the Olympic Park of 1972. Since the turn of the millennium, the Allianz Arena and a whole series of sensational museum buildings, houses of worship, and residential and corporate buildings from the hands of international star architects have been added. These are the architectural highlights of the last twenty years from A to Z:

The ADAC Headquarters

Home to the German Automobile Club (ADAC), this building is the latest addition to the portfolio of buildings in Munich created by the Anglo-German architects Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton. Featuring bright yellow window frames, a star-shaped base and a 93-metre tower, the building has become an architectural highlight in the city’s Westend area. Its environmentally-friendly energy concept is also outstanding. Heat is generated by a district heating network and geothermal energy while photovoltaic panels produce electricity. | Completed: 2012


Allianz Arena

Architects Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the Allianz Arena has come to be regarded. The outer walls and roof over the seating ring are covered in thousands of diamond-shaped air pockets, which normally light up in red and white, FC Bayern’s team colours. For special events, 300,000 LEDs can be used to create an array of other motifs and effects, ranging from rainbows to black, red and gold. The three sharply inclined stands provide space for up to 75,000 spectators to experience all the action on the pitch up close. | Completed: 2005


BMW Welt

BMW Welt, a project created by the architects’ studio Coop Himmelb(l)au/ Wolf D. Prix, is the BMW Group’s cutting-edge delivery and experience centre. Opposite the distinctive sweeping roofs of the 1972 Olympic venues and next door to the BMW tower and museum, BMW Welt rises to the challenge presented by its ambitious architectural neighbours. The building’s double cone design soars and swirls upwards in a dynamic arc, crowned by a roof known as “the cloud” by those who work there. The curved photovoltaic flat roof spans a total area of 15,000 square metres. | Completed: 2007

Fünf Höfe

An opulent shopping arcade that embodies a new approach to architecture in organic urban structures: With the Fünf Höfe project at Theatinerstrasse, the architects at Herzog & de Meuron took a once shut-off block of historic buildings in the old town and turned them into a modern complex of courtyards and arcades. Elegant stores, cafés and restaurants and various artistic installations lend each courtyard and arcade its own one-of-a-kind flair. The complex is also home to the Kunsthalle München art gallery. A facade of folding metal elements opens out onto Theatinerstrasse. The second phase of construction saw the Munich-based architects Hilmer & Sattler adding a facade on Salvatorstrasse. | Completed: 2003



Munich’s most cutting-edge Catholic church, Herz-Jesu-Kirche (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), was created by the architects Allmann Sattler Wappner and impresses with its clear, stripped-back design. The church contains no ornaments or paintings so as not to distract visitors from their time of introspection. Its warm and contemplative atmosphere stems from the high quality of the materials and the light that streams through the building’s outer shell and filters its way into the interior through vertical light wooden slats. The imposing two-winged door is made from blue glass and covers almost the entire façade of the church. In summer, it opens up for concerts and special events. | Completed: 2000

Modern architecture city walk

During a walk through Munich’s city centre with an official city tour guide you will be inspired by imposing architecture. Read more

HFF München and Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst

On the site opposite the Alte Pinakothek museum, the Cologne-based architects Peter and Gottfried Böhm built a new building to house the HFF München (Munich University of Film and Television) and the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art). Based on the requirements set out by the building’s two new tenants, the architects decided to create two clearly separate buildings with their own dedicated entrances and cover them with a single, shared façade. The lower of the two entrances leads visitors to the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst and its exhibition rooms, which the Böhm studio designed to reflect an underground archaeological excavation site. Daylight is provided by an atrium cut into a lawn above. In contrast, the entrance to HFF München is at ground level and opens out into a large foyer, which is also used for public events and represents communication with the outside world. The area to the rear houses the lecture theatres, an auditorium and cinema, classrooms for seminars, a library and cafeteria for the students. | Completed: 2011


The Medienbrücke München

The Medienbrücke München (Media Bridge Munich), designed by Otto Steidle and realised after his death by his successors, the architectural firm steidle architekten, is one of the most spectacular Munich buildings of recent times. It points the way for the new district at the Ostbahnhof, the so-called Werksviertel. The three-storey office building sits on two 50-metre-high columns as a kind of "horizontal high-rise". It is the entrance gate to the Media Works Munich area, a business park for media, fashion and service companies. The building offers a panoramic view over Munich to the Alps. | Completed: 2012

Museum Brandhorst

This colourful building houses art from the 20th and 21st century. Museum Brandhorst is an impressive new addition to Munich’s Kunstareal (Art District). Designed by the architectural team of Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton, the museum is a long and narrow building. Its outer shell is made from 36,000 glazed ceramic rods, which shimmer in a whole rainbow of colours depending on how the light hits them. The interior opens out into three exhibition levels linked by one large staircase. As well as its aesthetic appeal, Museum Brandhorst is also paving the way for environmental protection. Its cutting-edge lighting concept draws primarily on daylight while energy-saving technology is also used to regulate the temperature in the rooms. Further measures, such as groundwater pumps and heat exchangers, help the building to improve its environmental footprint. The building’s shell also absorbs the noise of the road.
| Completed: 2009



The new building for the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism was designed by the Berlin-based architects Georg-Scheel-Wetzel. Their design for a white cube made from exposed concrete won the architectural competition for the centre and work then began in autumn 2011. The design is a sharp contrast to the buildings of the time and the other architecture in the area, which dates back to the National Socialist Large windows that stretch over two floors afford a wide variety of perspectives. The concept for the exhibition draws from the building’s surroundings, giving visitors a point of reference when thinking about the past. | Completed: 2015


The synagogue on Sankt-Jakobs-Platz is located right at the heart of the city. Designed by the architects Wandel Hoefer Lorch, the synagogue forms part of the Jüdisches Zentrum (Jewish Centre), along with the Jüdisches Museum, a community centre with a concert hall and restaurant, a school and library. As the most important structure in the complex, the synagogue stands alone in the square. The base clad in natural stone is designed to remind viewers of temples in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the light glass structure with its steel skeleton looks like it is covered with intertwining Stars of David and represents the Tabernacle. At night, the roof lights up from the inside. The materials selected for the interior design include cedar imported from Lebanon and stone from Israel. Awarded the 2008 German Prize for Urban Development, the buildings and urban concept behind the Jüdisches Zentrum at Jakobsplatz have transformed a forgotten corner of the city into a thriving point of encounter and exchange.
| Completed: 2006 (synagogue) and 2007 (community centre and museum)

Pavilion in Petuelpark

Uwe Kiessler’s pavilion in Petuelpark in northern Schwabing is a cube-shaped two storey structure with a protruding flat roof and plenty of glass. The light, white park pavilion is used as a café and exhibition space. Petuelpark is a new, modern park that covers Petueltunnel on the northern part of the central ring road and displays various art work and water features.
| Completed: 2004

Pinakothek der Moderne

The Pinakothek der Moderne is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to fine art from the 20th and 21st century. Four stand-alone institutions with their own permanent or temporary exhibitions come together here under one roof: The Collection of Modern Art, the Design Museum, the Munich Technical University Architecture Museum and the State Collection of Graphic Design. Designed by the Munich-based architect Stephan Braunfels, the building reflects the autonomy of the individual collections while also echoing their collective identity. From the outside, it looks like a square free-standing block made from white exposed concrete with pillars standing guard in front of the glazed lobby: Inside, however, the structure opens out into a central rotunda flooded with light. The huge glass dome covers the open-plan foyer and spiral staircase that leads to the various exhibition levels. Unobstructed axes of vision enable visitors in the foyer to enjoy surprising glimpses into the individual collections.
| Completed: 2006


Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus

In 2009, star architect Sir Norman Foster began the general renovation and extension of the Munich artists' villa with the world's largest collection of the Blauer Reiter. The historic free-standing villa remains the heart of the new complex. However, the golden façade of the new building created by the builders from Foster + Partners has put Munich in the spotlight as the location of this exciting world-class architectural masterpiece. The gallery’s other collections, to which Lenbachhaus owes its diversity, are also back on display, including its treasure trove of 19th century paintings and extensive collection of international contemporary art. A new pioneering form of LED technology was developed under the supervision of Lenbachhaus. Artificial lighting that is barely distinguishable from daylight and that meets the exacting standards needed to preserve artwork is used to create a wide range of lighting effects in varying shades. This is the first time that this technology has been used on a large scale in a museum. With this milestone, Lenbachhaus has set new standards for art museum lighting across Germany. | Completed: 2013



In the middle of the Werksviertel, a new city quarter on former industrial sites behind the Ostbahnhof, WERK12 impresses with its bold and expressive façade. Original are the exclamations "Ahh", "Ohh" and "Puhh" borrowed from the comic language, which are affixed there in the form of five-metre-high letters. The Munich artists Christian Engelmann and Beate Engl are responsible for this work of art on the building, which they see as a homage to graffiti culture and the signage that is characteristic of the Werksviertel. You can move through the building in many different ways: for example, each floor is surrounded by terraces that are over three metres wide and connected by outdoor staircases. There are restaurants and bars on the ground floor, offices on the top floor and a three-storey gym with swimming pool in between. WERK12 was awarded the prestigious prize from the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM Prize) in 2021. | Completed: 2019

Park Plaza Residential Tower 

On the former trade fair grounds in Munich’s Westend district, the Park Plaza residential building designed by Munich architects Otto Steidle + Partner has come to symbolise this new urban neighbourhood. Reaching a height of 44 metres, the building replaces the trade fair tower that once stood here. The bold colour scheme – a warm orange – is one of the hallmarks of the Munich-based architects. Balconies and apartments jut out from all sides of the block like drawers and bring movement to the façade with the uneven distribution of their windows. At 14 storeys tall, Park Plaza is one of the few skyscrapers in the city centre and is used solely for residential purposes. | Completed: 2002


Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof München (ZOB)

Long-distance coaches arriving in Munich enter through this futuristic gateway: the new Central Bus Station at Hackerbrücke. A huge cloak of slats made of narrow aluminium piping shrouds the slanting glass structure of the building itself. The terminal on the ground floor has 29 bays and is designed especially for guest arrivals and departures. The first storey is a place where travellers and local residents can shop, eat and drink while the second storey houses the ticket sales point. From the terrace at the top and the large glazed waiting room, guests enjoy unobstructed views across Frauenkirche church and the main train station. Ten metres below the new bus station you’ll find Munich’s hottest new club Neuraum. The ZOB is well connected to the city’s public transport network. The S-Bahn railway (Hackerbrücke station) and tram provide direct links to the city centre. | Completed: 2009



Text: München Tourisums; Photos: Werner Böhm, Sigi Müller, Roland Halbe, Frank Stolle


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