A new communicative center for Düsseldorf University
With the new Oeconomicum building between the university library and medical faculty, ingenhoven architects have created a new landmark for Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf. The development comprises a three-story faculty building with a generous glass front facing the university lake. With its gently curved shape, the entire new building is oriented towards the adjoining waterscape. An important aspect of the design was to create a sense of transparency, which is an expression of the joint understanding of teaching and research with respect to scientific work, exchange, and synergy effects.
The new Oeconomicum is raised on stilts because the site was already in use for an access to an underground parking garage. By skillfully making use of the situation, no additional land was needed for the new building and, at the same time, a covered bicycle parking area was created. With its walls being in all-glass construction, the building design actively encourages academic exchange and communication, and is an expression of a new understanding of teaching and research. Prior to the development, the adjoining university lake was not accessible; now it is bordered by an inviting wooden terrace. This has created an ideal situation and an opportunity for working and learning in the open. The terrace has become a busy meeting point for the entire campus that is used on a daily basis.
The design of the facade is based on energy conservation principles: open towards the south and only with sparse openings towards the north. The design of the office areas in the south tract is flexible to allow different sizes of work and meeting areas. The interior design concept provides scientists and students plenty of space for cooperation and for thinking. The seminar rooms are located on the first floor whereas the offices are on the floor above. The offices for teaching staff on the north side of the building have glass walls towards the open areas in the center of the building—a feature that encourages communication while also providing daylight and a panoramic view of the open waterscape. The atrium along the south facade links the common areas and teaching rooms on the first floor with the department offices in the upper floors.
The operating costs and energy consumption of the building have been reduced to a minimum. By making use of geothermal energy, rainwater harvesting, and natural ventilation, the compact building betters current standards for energy conservation. With a view to environmental responsibility, materials were selected under criteria of recyclability and energy conservation, as well as longevity, in order to create a robust building that will serve many generations of students.
Overall, the new building of the Oeconomicum as faculty building for the economic sciences signals the start of a general overhaul of the university complex, including modernizations and new buildings. Previously, the site of Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, was dominated by four- to six-story concrete buildings from the 1970s.
In September 2016, construction started on an extension to the existing Oeconomicum in westerly direction up to the site boundary, adding about another third of the building volume. The extension replicates the radial grid and exterior appearance of the existing building.