Archiepiscopal Vocational College in Cologne

Archiepiscopal Vocational College in Cologne

Köln, Germany
Project Year


Stories By

Knauf AMF

Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
Ceiling SolutionsKnauf AMFHERADESIGN® Wood Wool Ceilings
Floor classroomsForbo Flooring Systems
LightingZumtobel Lighting Gmbh
ManufacturersCarl Stahl Architecture
Floor galleriesnora

Product Spec Sheet
Floor classrooms
Floor galleries
by nora
by FSB

Erzbischöfliches Berufskolleg in Köln-Sülz

3pass as Architects

The new vocational college of the diocese of Cologne unites former three separate schools for nursery and caretaking professions under one roof. The center of the building forms a four-storey light-flooded hall surrounded by undulating galleries on different levels. The hall is a foyer, meeting place and event space at the same time. A wide perron in its center, which also serves as seating and tribune for events and plays in the atrium, leads to the first floor and from there via a cascade-like flights of stairs to the upper floors.

The color and material palette is calm and reserved. Stair strings and door frames cladded with fine line panels, screed flooring, acoustic ceilings and railings are subtlely modulated with the appearance of the exposed concrete surfaces. A wide spanning roof of white and transparent ETFE-cushions provides richly daylight and sun screening at the same time. In the three main staircases the artwork “In Motion” by Volker Saul, an abstraction of moving legs, creates colourful vivid accents. From the outside the building represents itself as a monolithic polygonal shape which responds sensitively to the existing urban fabric. Forming an edge towards the main road in the north and the eastern side street the college wraps on its inner side around the church “Johannes XXIII”, a brutalistic icon of 1964. By this gentle step back it creates a central plaza for the students as well for the congregants and employees of the neighbored church administration. From here the main entrance as large opening carve out in exposed concrete is accessed. The façade itself with its slim green-greyish danish brick takes reference to the materialization of its built environment.

Lively teaching and learning

Knauf AMF as Ceiling Solutions

This new vocational college in Cologne features an inspired four storey light flooded hall surrounded by undulating galleries at different levels. The colours and material palette used throughout are calm and reserved,with stair stringers and doors framed with fine line panels, screed flooring and a subtly modulated acoustic ceiling with the appearance of an exposed concrete surface.

The acoustic ceiling here comes from Knauf AMF, who produced nearly 8000 m2 of HERADESIGN superfine A2 ceiling tiles for the design. Made from a 1-layer, non-combustible, magnesite bonded wood wool acoustic tile, the natural texture of the wood remains visible.

A particularly important aspect of the design is the exact integration of the curved floor line at the perimeter of the tiles, including the LED light strips. Lighting specialists LichtKUnstLIcht AG worked closely with the tiles manufacturer and installer to ensure the best possible integration of lights and LED strips.

The tiles were produced in defined dimensions at Knauf AMF’s Austrian plant in Ferndorf and then manually cut on site by specialist contractor Wildorf GmbH (Hillesheim)

More from the Manufacturer:

The Erzbischöfliche Berufskolleg in Cologne, completed in 2016, is one of the most impressive new educational buildings of recent times in North Rhine-Westphalia. The teaching and learning concepts are as interesting as the interior design and the dimensions of the complex. For this project, Knauf AMF delivered nearly 8000 m² of HERADESIGN® superfine A2 ceiling tiles.

The Erzbischöfliche Berufskolleg, according to its own figures, educates around 1100 youths for a variety of vocations in the social and healthcare sectors. Originally four different schools, since the end of the nineties a collective vocational college has slowly been established under the archbishopric in Cologne. On 30th June 2016, a collective building was constructed in the Sülz district on the corner of Berrenrather Street/Universitäts Street that was “specially built for us and is state-of-the-art in all areas”, as formulated by Headmistress Andrea Born-Mordenti.

The architecture and interior design of the building was the responsibility of 3pass (Cologne) and Keggenhoff & Partner (Arnsberg) who created an educational space for lively teaching and learning processes. The concept states: The training and further education of social and remedial professionals in vocational and study-related courses of education requires ‘to be on the move’ and a change of perspective in various relationship systems.” What this means for the language of the design can be best experienced by entering the large, open atrium. It is dominated by a wide, open staircase, curved floors and a transparent roof allowing daylight to flood in and providing an airy atmosphere.

In an interview, Judith Kusch, one of the proprietors of 3pass, described the architecture and light concept (from LichtKunstLicht AG, Bonn) as the idea of a light guide “where even the artificial light appears as an invisible source of the visible space.” To achieve this spatiality, a joint concept approach was necessary. The materials and colours were chosen accordingly: “The white and beige tones of the treated wood and cladding are homogenous and unobtrusive. Exposed concrete walls and the white ceiling contribute to the spatial character of the atrium being almost immaterial”, said Judith Kusch.

Frank Plogstert, Sales Manager in Germany for Knauf AMF, who followed the project through the design and the first phase of the construction remembers: “The structure and the organic forms made from exposed concrete with connecting shadow gap details to the structure of the interiors was very complex. For the ceilings, highly absorbent, non-combustible products were required that could be adapted to these forms on-site.” Reversibility and flexibility of the ceiling material were also wished for by the architect. In order to give the client an authentic idea of the optic impression of the design, an extensive sample room was constructed before the final material decision was made.

After an extensive consultation period, the decision for the ceilings was made as HERADESIGN® superfine A2 from Knauf AMF, fulfilling the requirements of high sound absorption and good on-site workability. In total 7780m² of these tiles in 2000 x 600 x 25 mm were installed throughout the building. HERADESIGN® superfine A2 is a 1-layer, non-combustible, magnesite bonded wood wool acoustic tile (fibre width 1mm) with an elegant surface structure. The tile carries the Blue Angel label, which also complies with the ecological approach of the architects.

The natural texture of the wood wool is visible even in the reserved white tone and the large ceiling areas don’t appear to be static.

Stephan Küsters, Knauf AMF Regional Sales Manager for Düsseldorf / Dortmund, who oversaw the project until completion: "A particularly noteworthy point regarding the ceilings is the exact integration of the curved floor line at the perimeter of the HERADESIGN® superfine A2 tiles, including the LED light strips." Special formats were necessary in order to be able to connect the tiles in the best possible way to the organic forms of the exposed concrete. The experts from LichtKunstLicht AG also worked intensively with the tiles and the ceiling construction in order to integrate the lights and light strips. This was aided by the fact that finishing and fitting took place on-site. The HERADESIGN® superfine A2 tiles were initially produced in defined dimensions at Knauf AMF’s Austrian plant in Ferndorf and then manually cut on-site by the specialist contractor Waldorf GmbH (Hillesheim).

Headmistress Andrea Born-Mordenti summarised the character of the new Berufskolleg as “a light-flooded building with a very special atmosphere.”

Bubble wrap for the Archiepiscopal Vocatinal College in Cologne


Experts of Membrane Building – received the order for the “bubble wrap” roofing of College of the archdiocese, Cologne in the first half of the year 2014. The assembly had been finished in autum 2015. Outstanding planning work and a well thought assembly concept helped the object to a breath-taking and transparent membrane roof. Thanks to the realization of a roof consisting of an ETFE-foil cushion leads to a particularly light open interior at the College of the Archdiocese of Cologne.

ETFE-foil cushion construction are an intelligent solution to design transparent atriums with lightweight sky lights. The design ideas were perfectly transferred by the Experts of Temme // Obermeier. The challenging shape of the sky light required a different radius and sizes of all three-layer foil cushion elements designed by a 3D-Model handed over by the architects. This trapezoidal shape with additional twist can be easily realized by a ETFE foil than other materials. Paired with the abilities of the Temme // Obermeier team, a perfect symbiosis of the entire structure is the result. The checkerboard design was realized by a light screen printing and transparent elements. This leads to a particularly nice transparency with a required low G value of less than 40 % to avoid thermal overheating. All this could be realized with a very light structure of just 30 kg per sqm.

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