Coop Himmelb(l)au's House of Bread has finally risen and looks just as unusual as the renders led us to believe it would. Inside, the building serves as a museum and exhibition space dedicated to bread, and is packed with an eclectic mix of cultural objects, art, books and toys related to the staple food.

Resembling a loaf of bread (or an amorphous blob of steel, depending on your point of view), the Asten, Austria-based building opened recently and is now officially referred to as the Paneum.

It reaches a height of 20 m (65 ft) and consists of two parts: a box-shaped plinth building that includes foyer and event rooms, and the upper exhibition area named "Wunderkammer des Brotes." This latter space hosts an impressive collection of 1,200 objects related to bread that cover a timespan of 9,000 years.

The objects on show include bread-related equipment and art, Egyptian grain mummies, Peruvian totem poles, Meissen Porcelain, Chinese granaries, paintings, and thousands of books.

The exhibition area was constructed using a wooden shell made from CNC-cut laminated timber, clad in stainless steel. Inside, a large atrium is navigated by spiral staircase and topped by a glazed roof. The architects kept things simple with a material palette of concrete, wood and glass that seems to complement the space.

"The design of the exhibition area is based on the idea of a cabinet of curiosities, a concept for collections originating in the Baroque period," says the firm. "This concept is especially appropriate for the unusual and small-scale objects in the collection related to the topic 'bread' which are presented in the exhibition area."

Coop Himmelb(l)au has produced several notable buildings recently, including China's MOCAPE and Denmark's House of Music.

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