Sunday 18 November 2007

Autostadt: Technical Flair with Design Elegance

38440 Wolfsburg

Where is it?

If you drive a Volkswagen that is in any way modern take this tip before you leave the car. Take a note of exactly which slot in which row of the car park you are in. Then take a note of exactly which car park. Then on the walk to the museum, chalk a mark on the road every so often to help you on the way back. Virtually nobody, and I mean nobody in this town drives anything other than a Volkswagen. Believe you me this will save you from having to wait until every other person has left in the evening to find your car.

Once you get to the main building, enter the main doors and head into the building towards the information desk. Towards the right you’ll see a set of stairs that head down in to the basement. Down there you will find a gently lit subterranean hall. Head across the hall towards the left and you’ll find the toilets.

What’s it like?

OK why the big deal about checking where you parked here? Well this is Wolfsburg and Wolfsburg is Volkswagen. We left town as the shift changed and I’m not kidding you that the 3-lane highway was jammed with cars, every one a VW. The hunt around the car park could easily take enough time for three pit stops in the toilet if you happened to forget exactly where your car is.

Autostadt is the VW museum. I didn’t expect to spend more than a couple of hours here, but was surprised to find myself leaving 6 hours later. Really, this is a good family day out, which is as cool for the kids as for the car enthusiast. As well as some of the older European cars, and the last Beetle to come of the Brazilian production line in 2003, each of the VW owned brands has a section of the park. Bentley, Audi, Skoda, etc are all in attendance. The restaurants are also pretty damned good. Honestly, great waiter service and a huge pizza and beer for less than 10 euro is good any time.

What impressed me most about the whole set up was the attention to detail and design. This is the same for the toilets too. Quality doors to the entry. Hugh coloured glass dividers between the stalls all start you thinking these are not just any toilets. Come on, they even has a separate small toilet set just for the kids.

Then you hit on the square sinks. The first thing you think is that they shriek of the impracticality you sometimes get in the more fancy restaurants. But then, when using them, you forget they’re so fancy after all. They’re somehow easy to use, and you find yourself just using them with ease.

What makes these toilets so good is what makes you think they look just a little stark before you walk in. They’ve been designed by car designers. For all the fancy looks they are so easy to use. They work! I guess this is a product of having the best car designers around. Things in cars these days have to look good and be easy to live with. If they don’t people just don’t buy your cars. Volkswagen know this and have certainly managed to transfer it to these toilets.

Marks out of 10:

9. Superb to look at and practical with it.

Comments to the management:

Solid, sound, practical, technical marvel…

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