The name evokes longing and although the name Oasis is chiefly a play on words, the architecture of the new medical library of the Heinrich Heine University and the University Clinic in Dusseldorf demonstrates clear similarities with a fertile spot in the desert.

Not through its form but through its concept; the brief was to design a space for enthusiastic learning; a place of exchange, of innovative teaching and learning and of development. The initial letters of these concepts in German together form the word O.A.S.E. - oasis. In less than two and a half years of design and construction we managed to create a landmark on the campus of university in the North Rhine Westphalian capital. The new medical library is part of the 2030 Master Plan to reorganise the 14 hectare university campus in the Wersten district of the city.

Constant expansion of the university over the past few decades led to an extremely heterogeneous appearance. New identification points are required; a lighthouse project for innovative teaching and learning, for example.

New Points of Attraction and Identification
The Oasis is such a point of attraction; visible from a great distance, it is 38 m tall, has a very unusual façade structure and a gleaming white skin. It projects unequivocally out of its rather monotonous grey surroundings. The external appearance of the solid structure reflects the library's specialist topic; it is the architectural expression of the capillary system. This idea is further reflected in the smooth, white façade. Organically shaped glass mosaic tiles linked by glass strips spread like a network over the slender cube and lend the structure its unmistakeable shape. This dynamic is reflected in the interior design through the flowing open spatial structure. Along with the obligatory library facilities such as the reading and lending areas, work and study rooms, a cafeteria and generous public and exhibition areas are arranged on the eight floors above ground level. The various library, study and learning rooms are stacked on top of one another and are accessed via a cylindrical lift and staircase core. The service core is diagonally opposite as are the document lounges and the toilets.

Stacked Library Functions
The ground floor of the library has been designed as a double-height space with a suspended mezzanine floor. The café, the cafeteria counter and the large lecture HPP Project Report Medical Library Oasis 2011 2/4 theatre are directly connected to the entrance foyer that houses the information desk and the electronic library security gate. The mezzanine offers a conference space with a direct view onto the hustle and bustle of the café below through a glass wall. 

The specialist medical and dental library rooms along with study rooms of various sizes are organised on levels 1 to 4. Digital whiteboards in the study rooms permit the most up to-date interactive communication and data exchange. A specially fitted out parent-child study room is reinforces the user-friendly aspects of the concept. Learning lounges are arranged freely in the central zones of each floor reflecting the easy transition between geometric and organic forms in keeping with our intention to make this a library to be experienced and not just used. All desks are equipped with WLAN and power sockets and half of these are additionally fitted with fixed LAN sockets. 

The centrepiece of the library is on the fourth floor - the borrowing desk - we fulfilled the University's request for a state of the art issue and return system with automatic sorting of returned books. Also on this floor are an e-learning room with 30 computer desks, another small cafeteria and offices for library staff. Whereas the lower floors are only accessible via the staircase and lifts, open internal stairways lead to the upper library floors where the bookshelves are laid out alternating with open-plan reading and working areas and separate group study rooms. In keeping with the concept as a whole, the areas become quieter and quieter as one moves upwards through the building and the atmosphere becomes ever more conducive to concentrated working. 

Level 7 is, like the ground floor, a double-height storey with a suspended mezzanine level providing further individual study areas and chill out zones. The uppermost floor of the Oasis is a roof terrace that affords students clear views of the entire university campus. The basement has been designed to house the technical functions including the cloakrooms and toilets for the exhibition areas on the ground floor. 

Facade structure as Starting Point for the Interior Design 

The interior design was conceived and realised together with the Silvia Pappa_UKW Innenarchitekten working group. The quality of the fittings reflects the architectural aspects of the spaces. The expressive cubature of the building, the free-flowing forms and fabric of the façade require a fitting response in the design of the interior. The extraordinary effect of the capillary-like glazing that defines the daylight penetration levels on each floor was the starting point for the interior design; the HPP Project Report Medical Library Oasis 2011 3/4 green, cylindrical core evocative of flowing space sets the tone for the interior atmosphere. The open-plan study and work zones follow the shape of the cores which is then repeated in the waves and amoeba like forms of the custom-built furniture. The closed, rectangular group study rooms are arranged along the façade walls. A variety of contemporary materials and surfaces such as fair-faced concrete, epoxy resin coatings, various woods, glass and plastic surfaces contribute to a harmonious and inspirational atmosphere in which to study and work. The furniture in the enclosed study rooms varies from that of the open spaces in order to achieve a different working atmosphere; lockers, seating and information areas are incorporated into wall recesses; the rounded cores are painted in green, the angular spaces in shades of lavender, watery blues and greens; tabletops in white and magenta. This, our palette defines the individuality of each level. 

Strong Identity and Recognisability 

The brief called for a "beacon of inspirational teaching and learning for the Medical Faculty"; from April 2009 to July 2011 we worked to provide this with our design for this highly sophisticated specialist library. The "capillary system" chosen by the HPP Project Report Medical Library Oasis 2011 4/4 architects as the leitmotif of this project resulted in a living structure with a strong identity and recognisability - a building, every space, every corner, every detail of which will serve to inspire the students every single day.

The new Oasis university library has been designed to accommodate 600 to 800 students per day. The test-phase commenced a few weeks ago and the official opening is set for October in time for the start of the 2011/2012 winter semester. 

Project team
Architecture: HPP Architets, Volker Weuthen, Dusseldorf
Project Management: Christoph Ebert
Project Team: Myriam Hamdi, Stephan Heimann, Bärbel Walger,
Wolfgang Miazgowski, Anja Biechele
Interior design: Working Group Silvia Pappa / UKW Innenarchitekten
Structural Engineers: Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure, Frankfurt a. M.
Technical Engineers: Winter Ingenieure, Dusseldorf
Acoustic / Structural Physics: Peutz Consult, Dusseldorf
Landscape Architects: W. Prechler, Dusseldorf
Lighting Engineers: AG Licht, Bonn

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team
Jobs
  • Town Planning Manager | Housebuilder in Surrey | 3+ years' PQE

    Are you a Town Planner with some commercial experience under your belt (consultancy or developer)? Would you like to work for a regional housebuild...
    • Lewis Davey
    • Surrey - near M25/M23 junction
  • Principal Planning Consultant (Policy)

    This is a career opportunity for somebody looking to play a key role in the delivery of an effective and efficient planning policy service.
    • Capita
    • Manchester/Salford (North West) or Breckland or North Tyneside or Barnet (North London)
  • Planning Officers

    Work as key members of the Councils development management service providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications and appeals.
    • Chiltern and South Bucks Council
    • Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • Enforcement Officer - Hertfordshire

    A Local Authority in Hertfordshire are looking for an Enforcement Officer to assist them with a backlog of cases for an initial contract of 3-6 months
    • Oyster Partnership
    • Hertfordshire
  • Planning Officer

    Do you want to work for a Planning Authority in a superb world-class location, that also has an outstanding record of achievement?
    • Plymouth City Council
    • Plymouth, Devon