31.10.2019  | ZÜBLIN Timber

Witten/Herdecke University opts for timber in new campus building

Square and main entrance of new campus building at Witten/Herdecke University (image credits: Björn Rolle)
Library: large reading room with view of the Pferdebachtal landscape area (image credits: Atelier Noise)

Witten, 31 October 2019       

Witten/Herdecke University is presenting its planned new campus building to the public at a festive ceremony today. The ground-breaking ceremony for the three-storey hybrid timber building, built to a design by the Berlin-based architects Kaden+Lager as a link between the existing buildings of the university campus, is scheduled for May 2020. The approx. € 22 million turnkey construction contract including planning and outdoor facilities went to the timber construction specialist ZÜBLIN Timber of Aichach. In addition to office, administrative and seminar rooms, the extension building will also house the library, event rooms and a café/bar. Witten/Herdecke University wants to create more space for its 2,600 students and over 900 employees to support them in their personal, academic and professional development. The completion of the extension building is scheduled for the summer of 2021.

One of the most sustainable university buildings in Germany

The design of the new building with a gross floor area of 6,800 m² was worked out over a period of a year-and-a-half in an intense user-participation dialogue between ZÜBLIN Timber/Kaden+Lager and the university, and the architectural and functional demands are correspondingly high. The building should not only be one of the most sustainable university buildings in Germany but also offer a thoroughly modern, dialogue-oriented work and learning space. The new building will be constructed in the centre of the campus area and will be surrounded by the main university building, the Dental Medicine–Life Sciences Centre and the Research and Development Centre, which were built between 1993 and 2006 in different architectural styles. To date the campus has been architecturally defined by glass, plaster, steel and stone – now comes wood as a “soft”, organic building material for a sustainable, contemporary contribution to the mix.

Flexibility and quality of life

ZÜBLIN Timber will construct the building skeleton of glued laminated timber with LENO® cross-laminated timber ceilings and an in-slope concrete basement. The post-and-beam and exterior façades made of untreated native softwood adapt to the local environment and give the building a dynamic and light appearance. Floor-to-ceiling wood-aluminium windows, which can be opened from the inside, contribute to optimal illumination and a pleasant ambience. 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, and the possibility of connecting the new building to the existing buildings has been considered as well. 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.

Space that invites social design

“Our world is currently undergoing rapid change. We need new answers to the pressing changes in our society: new ways of dealing with complexity, an expanded understanding of ecology and sustainability, and new ways of balancing inequalities, to name only the most important,” says Dr. Martin Butzlaff, President of Witten/Herdecke University. “We want to contribute to these challenges here at Witten/Herdecke University. The new building will create a space for discourse, reflection and action where young people will be equipped to question, rethink and redesign the current forms of value creation, management and healthcare and their cultural and political contexts. In tandem with ZÜBLIN Timber, our architects have very convincingly implemented this objective.”

Chancellor Jan-Peter Nonnenkamp adds, “This design is a milestone in our university history. We are proud to be building one of the most sustainable university buildings in Germany and are pleased that we have been able to involve so many students and employees along the way and to incorporate their ideas. This is the kind of participation that defines Witten/Herdecke University.”

Markus Lager of the architectural firm Kaden+Lager GmbH, explains, “The new building completes the previously rather fragmented campus and fuses the living values of the university with the existing architectural styles. The design of the new building, for example, is based on dialogue and communication. A large, flexibly used axis will link the new building with the existing buildings as well as all the rooms within the new building with each other. A strictly pursued grid of simple timber construction ensures maximum adaptability.

“The university is setting an example by committing to a future-oriented and ecological concept for this construction project, which is to be certified to the BNB gold standard. As an ambassador for the sustainable method of timber construction, we look forward to the continued partnership with all involved,” says Anders Übelhack, ZÜBLIN Timber GmbH.

The new university building in Witten is already the second joint timber construction project for ZÜBLIN Timber and Kaden+Lager after SKAIO, Germany’s first timber high-rise in Heilbronn.