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Museum of Emotions in Berlin. A project inspired by Plutchik's theory

Dobrawa Bies
02 of February '23

Using Robert Plutchik's theory of emotions, {tag:studenci} from the Wroclaw University of Technology designed an unusual museum, for the location of which she chose the center of Berlin. The author, operating with scale, choice of materials, lighting, as well as the way of visiting and functions, created spaces in which visitors experience various emotions, from joy and surprise to anger and even disgust.

The work on display was produced as part of the international Museum of Emotions competition organized by the Buildner platform. The challenge was to design a museum in which two separate exhibition rooms would evoke contrasting emotions. The project was deepened as part of a master's thesis entitled. „Museum of Emotions. The Influence of Architecture on the Control of Human Emotional State” done under the supervision of Dr. Roman Rutkowski.

Muzeum Emocji znajduje się w Berlinie

Museum of Emotions in Berlin

© Maja Klawitter

My project Museum of Emotions is designed to evoke extreme emotions. The first element aiming to evoke them is its controversial location in the central Berlin area of the Marks-Engels Forum. The museum blends into the surrounding landscape without competing with historic buildings such as the Red City Hall, St. Mary's Church, Berlin Cathedral or the Brandenburg Gate, visible from afar, the author says.

Muzeum Emocji, plan zagospodarowania terenu

Museum of Emotions, site plan

© Maja Klawitter

Plutchik's theory

The underground part of the building is a service area, while the subterranean part is a museum located on three levels. The architect's idea was to use the three-dimensional diagram of Plutchik 's theory and reflect it in the plan. The theory focuses on distinguishing the basic eight innate emotions that directly relate to human adaptive behavior.

 Projekt opiera się na diagramie teorii Plutchika Rzut podziemia, sale muzeum

The projection of the museum corresponds to the diagram of Putchik's theory

© Maja Klawitter

In the 1960s, American psychologist Rober Plutchik developed a theory that focuses on distinguishing eight primary emotions, eight derived emotions and feelings. This division provides for the demonstration of innate emotions that are fundamental to human development and directly related to survival behavior. The primary eight emotions are listed as pairs of opposites, which are classified as ideal mixtures: alertness—amazement, ecstasy—despair, awe—revulsion, terror—fury. Plutchik's theory is illustrated using a special diagram that represents the degree of similarity between the different states. It involves combining individual emotions into a unity, creating another, more complex one. This combining leads to the creation of combinations responsible for specific experiences and feelings. The main idea of my museum is to be able to experience a mixture of these primal emotions," explains Maja Klawitter.

Zwiedzanie muzeum podzielone jest na etapy

The museum tour is divided into stages

© Maja Klawitter

where do I want to go now?

The proposed museum is designed for everyone, regardless of age group, gender or disability. The author, through appropriately designed modules and spaces, encourages visitors to constantly ask themselves the question „Where do I want to go now?”. The structure of the museum is shaped as a building of individual perception, which means that it is the user who decides where is the beginning and where is the end of the tour.

Muzeum Emocji, taras widokowy

The establishment also includes an observation deck

© Maja Klawitter

Visitors get to the wings of the administrative and educational part via the main entrance located on the river side at level -2. Particularly important for the entrance area is its relationship with the underground museum. It is from here that one can get to the covered courtyard and further to the emotion rooms. The museum is located on level -3 and is divided into eight rooms with permanent exhibitions. There is also a viewing point at the museum, which can be reached via a ramp and a passage from the park establishment.

The building is designed in reinforced concrete construction with high fire resistance and significant resistance to permanent and variable loads, and its interiors are raw—with poured concrete on the walls.

Aksonometria projektowanego muzeum

axonometry of the designed museum

© Maja Klawitter

staged discovery of emotions

The museum's tour format is divided into three ways. The first is intermittent sightseeing, which the author says is characterized by the user choosing the emotions that are a priority for her. This form of sightseeing allows you to explore only those exhibitions that interest you. The full tour strives to learn about each emotion, while the opposite tour is based on learning about opposite emotions, for example, delight and suffering.

Schemat ośmiu podstawowych emocji

diagram of the eight basic emotions

© Maja Klawitter

The building's floor plan refers to the circular diagram of Plutchik's theory, so the designer divided each of the eight rooms into three parts, reflecting the three stages of learning about emotions. Such a procedure is intended to diversify the user's passage through the emotions being explored and to allow them to interact more deeply with the space.

Zwiedzanie polega na poznawaniu emocji

exploring is about getting to know emotions

© Maja Klawitter

Stage I is the so-called primary emotion—the most intense experience. In this room, the author uses five factors: hearing, smell, touch, sound, sight.

The primary emotion room is designed to overstimulate those inside. The main factor inducing this state is the sound of the heartbeat corresponding to the emotion. The sound is supported by a large ball of light pulsing to its rhythm [...]. The use of raw concrete, also affects the emotion, can result, for example, in an aversion to touching it, revulsion, disgust with its structure," explains Maja.

The derivative emotion is stage II. It corresponds to a slow descent from an intense emotional state. This is helped by popular films and scenes showing various behaviors, which are displayed in another of the museum's rooms.

Stage III is illustrated by ten objects—spheres with the name and description of a particular emotion. The installation refers to the heralding end credits in the film.

Muzeum Emocji, dziedziniec

Museum of Emotions, courtyard

© Maja Klawitter

When the user finishes exploring the three stages of learning about a particular emotion, he or she will be faced with the decision of choosing the next route.

In order to reach the level of the covered courtyard, he has to travel along two ramps with a rest, which leads to the construction of a new emotional tension. Because of the sloping path, a person will get tired and his heart rate will become faster, the author adds.

Staying in the thread of extreme emotions, we encourage you to read Paweł Mrozek's column about the Museum of Modern Art under construction in Warsaw.

Dobrawa Bies

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