DÜSSELDORF – True to the aesthetic stance Berlin-based firm J. Mayer H. Architects has honed throughout the years, in both residential and public projects, the architects complete a new building for FOM University – Germany’s largest private university. The curvy design plays out not only as a fluid visual feed but enforces the suggested movement of students rushing through to lectures and courses.
With 6000 sq-m for 1500 students – there is ample space dedicated for education, training, and apprenticeship. A long rectangular design spanning six storeys, it uses a sculptural staircase to create a meeting ground connecting the four auditorium levels offered in this urban campus. More compact circulation areas inside speed up vertical mobility. On the first floor, the building connects with a bridge through an elevated platform, allowing for a swift move from one urban level to another. On the top floors are the administration and the student information centre.
The exterior and interior rely on the harmonious extension of floor slabs and balustrades to create a horizontal language to the overall scheme. Balconies are pulled out gently from the linear cladding rather than placed matter-of-factly, and corners in the interior are smoothed, never cut.
J. Mayer H. is adept at using curves and irregular geometry to define the functions and motion of a building. In his own words, the building ‘reflects on the infrastructural context of railway tracks, bridges, ramps and pedestrian connections in the building design.’
Indeed, the building is within the newly planned, nearly completed mixed-use area built on a former freight station, named ‘Le Quartier Central’. The wink to the site’s history might be hard to decipher when looking along the elevation of seemingly random curvatures. However, the new university building as an educational hub of the 21st century fits into this metaphor of motion, swift exchanges, and multi-modal platforms that were found also in the site's previous life.