Danish firm wins university auditorium competition
Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen architects has won an international design competition for a new 13,500 sq m auditorium complex for the Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technical High School in Aachen (RWTH), Germany. Twenty-one German and international companies were invited to participate in the competition. This is the first project for the Danish firm in Germany. The new auditorium centre is due for completion in 2012.
The proposed solution is compact, comprising two blocks coated in green sedum grass, united by an airy, transparent glass atrium cutting through the building in a ziggurat pattern. The central idea of the proposal is the contrast between the inherently introverted auditoriums and the dynamic and open social and circulation zone that connects the auditoriums. The building integrates several informal spaces of various sizes to form squares and terraces for social activity and knowledge sharing.
“We have emphasised creating an informal student environment, where the architecture is the backdrop of both learning and socialising. To us social balance is important for the learning process,” said architect John Lassen, founding partner.
The complex will accommodate twelve auditoriums of capacities ranging from 1800 seats to 100 seats, including several seminar rooms and offices. A physics collection is located on the lower level.
Located on a block within the campus, the four storey complex is conceived as a singular sculptural object, breaking with the block structure by pulling back from the adjacent line of buildings. Two existing buildings on the block will be demolished in ten years time to create a new landscaped plaza with reflecting pools and greenery, increasing the visibility and enhancing the setting of the distinctive auditorium building.
The complex has seven entrances to make it accessible from all sides of the campus with main entrances directly into the atrium on the north side and into the facade facing the plaza to the east.
The project is part of RWTH’s major development strategy, which will add 280,000 sq m of new accommodation to the campus in the next nine years to create one of the largest research landscapes in Europe. The new auditorium complex will be located at the epicentre of three of the six parts of the campus; the Central Campus, the Sports Campus and the West Campus.