DIA's interactive exhibit weaves a journey through papenburg's maritime history

DIA's interactive exhibit weaves a journey through papenburg's maritime history

papenburg’s maritime history recalled with modern expression


DIA – Dittel Architekten introduces the Maritime Adventure World — a unique tourist experience in the center of Papenburg, Germany. The interactive and immersive exhibition weaves thematic worlds through Papenburg’s maritime chronology, exploring the city’s historic identity as a prominent trading hub, its skillful wood and steel shipbuilding, and the lifestyles of its citizens at the turn of the 19th-century. With the project rooted in history, DIA primarily preserves the historically listed building, embracing its solid masonry, traditional construction methods, and open wooden beam ceilings inside. In contrast, the architects express the city’s history through glimpses of modern architectural language, superimposing lightweight steel and glazed interventions that enhance the red brick facade and further continue into the exhibition to complement the carefully crafted interior space concept.


Within the museum, the existing traditional structure and modern additions are interwoven to correspond with the exhibition themes. Along the first floor, exposed wooden beams boldly recall historic wooden shipbuilding, while industrial materials along the second floor echo a discernible link to the modern steel-based construction. Further, creating an immersive learning experience for visitors, DIA integrates multi-media technologies such as AR and an app-based exhibition guide to create a memorable experience for all age groups.

DIA's interactive exhibit weaves a journey through papenburg's maritime history
a journey through Papenburg’s maritime history | all images © Dittel Architekten



dia fuses Technical and organic elements


Allusions to shipbuilding, a central element of Papenburg’s history, are transposed into the Maritime Adventure World’s design in the form of ‘lines’ and ‘axes’. At the building entrance, wooden slats lead the visitor into the interior, through to the exhibition centerpiece. The interplay between opening and closing slats continues to the back of the building, where the escape staircase is discreetly disguised by a delicate vertical structure. The entrance door stand prominently with an inset flat steel frame that penetrates the slatted structure, creating a clearly visible portal that invites visitors in.


Inside, the exhibition extends over three floors, walking visitors through a journey to discover Papenburg’s historic wood and steel shipbuilding. In collaboration with innovation agency 7Places, DIA’s concept centers on interactivity, learning and immersion. The architects transfer the city’s identity and history into space through analog and digital exhibits, supplemented with technologies such as AR, gamification, and an interactive app which allows visitors to collect and save information using QR code logic.

maritime adventure world papenburg 2
DIA fuses modern elements with the traditional



an immersive journey of exploration


Upon entering the space, visitors are greeted with an Interactive Table, serving as the first port of call for orientation and discovery tour planning. Immersing themselves in the chronological history of Papenburg, they can continue on to walk alongside modern exhibition displays with carefully staged original items and elaborate replicas, before making their way to the Explorer Shipyard on the upper floors.


On the first floor, visitors can get a glimpse into historic wooden shipbuilding as they pass through the atmospherically outfitted office of a ship designer which provides insights about various topics — from raw material extraction, through wood processing, all the way to structural shipbuilding. Further enhancing the experience, visitors are granted the option to create their own digital sailing ship using modern touchscreens. In this section, an exposed wooden ship frame sits as the centerpiece.

DIA's interactive exhibit weaves a journey through papenburg's maritime history
superimposed steel and glazed interventions enhance the listed red brick facade



The second floor exhibition section is accessed via a floor-to-ceiling steel and glazing transition that symbolizes pioneering steel shipbuilding. Here, atmospheric staging and graphics are used to illustrate the advantages of the new material by letting visitors race a wooden ship and a steel ship against each other. The learning journey continues by taking a closer look through interactive elements, while a centerpiece presents moving Papenburg stories, objects, people and shipyards. Concluding their visit, visitors can release their very own digital ships into a destination port of their choice.

maritime adventure world papenburg 5
exposed wooden slats lead visitors into Maritime Adventure World museum

maritime-adventure-world- papenburg-DIA-germany-designboom-10

maritime adventure world papenburg 9
a wooden ship frame sits as the centerpiece

maritime adventure world papenburg 6
modern circulation spaces mark the transition from wooden to steel shipbuilding

maritime adventure world papenburg 7
DIA integrates multi-media technologies such as AR and an app-based exhibition guide




project info:


name: Maritime Adventure World 
designer: DIA – Dittel Architekten

innovation agency: 7Places
location: Papenburg, Germany



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: ravail khan | designboom

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