Digital groundbreaking ceremony for the new Witten/Herdecke University campus building
Witten, 19 May 2020
Unusual times call for creative solutions, like the digital groundbreaking ceremony for the extension building at Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H). The university is documenting the symbolic start of construction with a YouTube video.
The official start to the project marks an exciting phase for the construction of the three-storey hybrid timber building, being built to a design by the Berlin-based architects Kaden+Lager as a link between the existing buildings of the university campus. The approx. € 22 million turnkey construction contract including planning and outdoor facilities went to the timber construction specialist ZÜBLIN Timber GmbH of Aichach. In addition to office, administrative and seminar rooms, the extension building will also house the library, event rooms for science, art and culture as well as a café. The completion of the extension building is already planned for late summer/early autumn 2021. “We are very much looking forward to one of the most sustainable university buildings in Germany. So far, we are fully on schedule and hope that this will remain the case despite the coronavirus crisis,” says Chancellor Jan Peter Nonnenkamp.
A look at the construction site reveals that everything is ready: the crane has been set up and the ground has been prepared to take the load of the building. “It is a special moment, because now our new campus building, our ‘future space’, is becoming a reality. With each additional week, we can imagine more vividly how young people will use the new space for discourse and reflection to rethink and redesign the society of tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that,” says Dr. Martin Butzlaff, President of Witten/Herdecke University. Architect Markus Lager is also looking ahead to the “digital start” to construction: “We can now look forward to the time when the first students will use the new building. Of course, we will do our best to support the construction progress in order to reach that happy moment soon.”
The foundation will be poured before the end of May. At the same time, the timber elements are already being prefabricated to precision at the ZÜBLIN Timber plant in Bavaria. The modular components will follow at the beginning of August. “We will be using a total of around 1,200 m3 of certified wood, with each cubic metre binding a tonne of CO2. Thanks to the prefabrication of the parts and the intelligent coordination of the specialist trades involved, we can shorten the raising and assembly of the timber elements to just four months, so that the basic structure will be finished before the onset of winter,” says site manager Theresa Fischer from ZÜBLIN Timber.
An outlook on the design
Besides its attractive timber façade, the building will feature plenty of “inner values”. The focus in the interior is on openness and communication, although several quiet spaces for concentrated work will be provided as well. All premises can also be flexibly and quickly adapted to different usage requirements. The low-tech energy concept, featuring simple handling and innovative building technology with a combined heat and power plant, is all about sustainability. Rooftop terraces and a newly designed outdoor area with a square and park offer additional communication and recreation areas for an increased quality of life.
Image credits: Private Universität Witten/Herdecke gGmbH