Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen architects has won an international design competition for a new 13,500 m2 auditorium complex for the Rheinisch-WestfÃ¤lische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen University) in Aachen, 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 center is due for completion in 2012.
Winning design for a new auditorium complex for RWTH Aachen University by Danish schmidt hammer lassen architects
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.
â€œWe have emphasized creating an informal student environment, where the architecture is the backdrop of both learning and socializing. To us social balance is important for the learning process,â€ said architect John Lassen, founding partner.
The complex will accommodate twelve auditoriums of capacities ranging from 1,800 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 story 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 RWTHâ€™s major development strategy, which will add 280,000 m2 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 epicenter of three of the six parts of the campus; the Central Campus, the Sports Campus and the West Campus.
Sustainability in the project:
- The compactness of the building facilitates sustainable solutions.
- Orientation of auditoriums and rooms avoid direct sunlight. The building volume is shaped to use natural light very efficiently.
- Windows have triple glazing with low U-values and are equipped with shading structures.
- Planted walls and roof (sedum grass) along with water pools provide a low-maintenance improvement to the microclimate inside and outside the building.
- The plants protect the building from overheating and level surface and air temperature through evaporation. Air quality is improved by the planted walls serving as natural filter.
- All exterior walls are insulated to high standards of energy efficiency.
- The atrium facade combines low U-values glazing with semitransparent photovoltaic cells on the roof and on the south-west facade for shading and generation of energy (47,000 KWh/a).
- Rainwater not absorbed by the green facades and roof will be collected in cisterns and used for watering and process water.
Facts about “HÃ¶rsaalzentrum Aachen”:
- Area: 13,500 m2
- Budget: â‚¬80 M ($114 M)
- Construction period: 2009-2012/2013
- Competition year: 2009
- Competition type: Restricted, international
- Prize: 1st prize
- Client: Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen
- Architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects (DK)
- Project Partners: Kim Holst Jensen, Bjarne Hammer, John Lassen
- Project architect: Mette Wienberg
- Landscape architect: schmidt hammer lassen architects
- Environmental engineer: Werner Sobek Green Technologies (GER)
- Acoustics: Nagata Acoustics America Inc. (US)
Images: schmidt hammer lassen architects
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