Hörsaalgebäude Osnabrück
© Jens Kirchner

Hörsaalgebäude Osnabrück

Benthem Crouwel Architects as Architects

Urban design The master plan for the ‘Hochschulcampus Osnabrück’ (college campus Osnabrück, Germany) is the frameworkwhich includes the first building blocks (library, Forum, university building, campus and mensa). The centrally locateduniversity building is situated where in the future the campus area and the Forum will meet.Because of this location and the position of the university building as “link”, the building is shaped like a volumeof three floors with a cutaway at the bottom. The incision ensures a strong relationship with the outside area andgives the university building a clear, recognizable entrance: a striking building is created. In addition, the campus isenriched with a carefully designed outside area, which can be used for events and conferences.

Clear, simple, compact Upon entering the building (under the cantilevered section of the building) the hall opens upwards: open space alongall floors creates a feeling of generous spaciousness. The glass roof allows natural light to flow through the entirelobby. This space can be used by the university, but can also be used for non-university events. The central atrium andgreen courtyard are special areas in the tightly organized building volume, which can be experienced in different waysand provide simple and clear orientation for visitors.The layout (as three adjacent sections) leads to a clear, simple and compact floor plan of the university building. Classroomsand emergency staircases are situated on both sides of the building; in the middle part are the lobby, technicalrooms and courtyard. The large lecture halls are perpendicular to the main direction of the building, and get theirnatural light from the courtyard. Due to the existing topography, the heights of the land is used in the new building,making it clear and simple to create the requested higher ceilings in the lecture halls.

Learning Landscape The heart of the new university building is formed by the so-called learning landscape. The building interacts with thearea outside where campus and Forum connect. In a way, the Forum is continued inside the building, in a ‘landscape’consisting of various levels and platforms. The learning landscape becomes the central place to meet, connect, communicate,study and exchange information. The spatial quality and striking cutaway give the learning landscape thepotential to become a unique spot on campus, with its own very distinct identity.

Free ‘learning zones’ will become increasingly important in education. After all, nowadays digital information is alwaysavailable everywhere: laptops and tablets are mobile, constantly accessible sources of knowledge. People using thesemedia can connect and form flexible groups anywhere and anytime. The question is to what extent the conventionallayout of a university building still meets the requirements of these new behavioural patterns. Perhaps spaces with aflexible layout are a necessary complement to the traditional lecture halls. These considerations are the basis for thedevelopment of the learning landscape in the new university building.

In this ‘landscape’ all floors are connected. Plateaus of different width, with parquet flooring of smoked oak, create inthe common areas. Tables and objects to sit on start at one and end on another platform, so that the different levelsare ‘stapled’ to each other. The tables and sit-objects offer users different ways to work and study. Loose furnituresuch as bean bags and seating cubes invite users to create their own setups, depending on need. Particular attentionis paid to the acoustics and the function of light in the building: sound-absorbing materials and integrated lightingelements ensure a pleasant atmosphere.

Façade The rigid structure of the facade with a grid pattern of 1.25m, is made more light and airy by using windows of differentheights. Due to the arrangement of these differently shaped windows, the size and shape of the various internalspaces can also be read on the outside of the building. In the interior the different functions can be seen by the varyingheight of the balustrades.

The outer shell is designed as a two-tier structure: the building volume is coated with an insulating green foil membranethat protects the façade against wind and rain. On an aluminium sub-structure, a coating of folded panels - onthe sides perforated aluminium panels - are mounted. The perforation of the metal skin creates a varied, lively view ofthe facade: you can see glimpses of the green building shine behind the metal. The anodized aluminium panels havea soft, almost velvety surface and give the building an important, yet friendly and inviting appearance.The incisions are placed in such a way that the windows and frames are hidden from sight. The principle of these preciseincisions is continued in the upper and lower part of the building; the plinth and cornice aren’t visible. The blindsare integrated into the insulating surface and are hardly noticeable behind the metal coating.

Green The colour green refers to the ‘origin’ of the university, which has its roots in the Faculties of Agricultural Sciences andLandscape Architecture of the former agricultural college. This fresh, stimulating and inspiring colour gives beautiful,striking and contrasting accents to a building which is mostly characterized by the use of restrained colours andmaterials.

Visual communication For way-finding in the new building an original typographic has been developed. Quotes and printed collections ofwords on the walls are there to inspire and arouse curiosity. All these graphics elements are presented in the colourgreen. The same typography is used on glass walls and doors, as a contrast marker for the visually impaired.

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