Zentralgebäude; does that word sound interesting enough to grasp your attention for a quick read? Though it is a word as complex as your current problem in life, read on. In the journey of reading about this radical structure, you might meet simple sentences that leave a lasting impression.

As convoluted is the name to pronounce, this central building of the Leuphana university translates complexity in every angle that is conquered by it. It is a staggering accomplishment that this edifice creates. The very quintessence and core of the structure’s design philosophy can be understood from a few lines that were spoken by Ar. Daniel Libeskind himself. It is important to reflect on the personality of the architect to uniquely decipher the character that the building carries.

The Design Philosophy that Binds the Building

As quoted by Ar. Daniel Libeskind in his Tedx talk,
“We applaud a well-mannered box.
But,

To create a space that never existed is what interests me. To create a space that has never been. A space that we have never entered except in our minds and spirits, and I think that’s really what architecture is based on. It’s based on wonder.”

The architectural style of the building is often perceived as deconstructivism. The overall design philosophy of the building can be described in a series of words. A trapping comparison of antonyms and a deliberate attempt of juxtaposition.

Unexpected over habitual.
Radical over culture.
Unexplainable over understandable.
Complex over simple.
Raw over refined.
Commutative over mute.

A structure so rebellious, even with all its flaws. It has been an outcast within the context and the minds of a few users; yet builds a community with all its complexity. It stands out in sharp pointing angles and makes a statement, to follow what you truly believe in and to just be.

Zentralgebäude by Daniel Libeskind: An Ambitious Project - Sheet1
A structure with a series of asymmetrical highlights against a solid screen of concrete. ©Leuphana university

Deciphering the Design

1. Planning

This highly ambitious central building of the Leuphana university attempts to reinvent itself with three main spaces; namely,

Leuphana foyer -830 sq. meter
Leuphana forum – 45-0 sq. meter
Libeskind auditorium- 920 sq. meter

This serrated silver structure has an awry distribution of spaces. Let us look at an overview of the design split up. The ground floor greets the user with a number of spaces. It holds the Leuphana foyer, Leuphana forum, foyer+forum, the Libeskind auditorium, gastronomy, and a restaurant.

The rooms on the floor above are designed to be seminar rooms capped by a terrace. The structure has seven floors with seminar rooms in each.

Zentralgebäude by Daniel Libeskind: An Ambitious Project - Sheet2
An outline of the Zentralgebäude ©Leuphana university

2. Ground floor

The ground floor of the Zentralgebäude spans upto 2000 sq. meters. It is a fluid space confined within sharp-cut materials. It is guarded by flexible gates that enable the user to combine the three rooms on the ground floor to create an incredible event space. This building provokes a sense of change in multiple ways by crushing the existing context and familiar habits with many elements.

The flooring of the ground floor is fitted with oak parquet which is of high quality and is wear-resistant.

Libeskind auditorium 

It is the soul of Zentralgebäude of the Leuphana University. Each seat is furnished with a folding table. (21 x 15 cm). A hydraulic stand provisions the feasibility of opening the room or shifting from a parliamentary setting to a gala seating at a quick pace. The walls of the auditorium have bright bold golden stripes with a collective arrangement of striking red seats. It has a capacity of 730 seats.

Zentralgebäude by Daniel Libeskind: An Ambitious Project - Sheet3
Arrays of striking red seats. ©Leuphana university

Leuphana foyer

The Leuphana foyer is wrapped with a gallery enhanced by dramatic play of light on its concrete walls with stunning views of the foyer, forum, and the respective receptions. There is an alternative entrance that is accessible via the central campus. In combination with the foyer and the Libeskind auditorium, this space has a capacity of approximately 2500 people on the ground floor.

Leuphana forum

It is a space, well equipped for exhibitions, trade fairs, and conferences. It has a unique style and plunges a user to an elevated experience with its wooden flooring and stark white walls. This again, with the combination of the Leuphana foyer and Libeskind auditorium, can transform into a larger and highly functional space.

Zentralgebäude by Daniel Libeskind: An Ambitious Project - Sheet4
Colour and material contrast that is defined by an air of juxtaposition. ©Leuphana university
Zentralgebäude by Daniel Libeskind: An Ambitious Project - Sheet5
Masses of white with an erratic play and punctures of solids and voids. ©Leuphana university

A Green Concern

In a world with harassing climate change, sustainability becomes a major factor while designing. Ar. Daniel Libeskind’s vision for the building was the economical and efficient use of electricity, especially in lighting, ventilation, and cooling. The façade of the structure is inclined to the sun, which results in shading and passive cooling during summers. This, in combination with the controllable glazing, eliminates the requirement for mechanical air conditioning. Windows can be accessed manually; CO2 indicators help with proper ventilation. The result is a trifling cooling requirement with pleasant temperatures throughout the building and tremendous power savings.

Critical Reprimands and Counters

The structure designed by Ar. Daniel Libeskind was stated as an embodiment of visual irritation and unnecessary pretentious radicalism. All of the straight sharp edges were condemned along with its compatibility with the surrounding and past context. However, the university verbalised that the irritations caused by the building were a deliberate attempt to portray the indifference and provoking struggles of the city, its culture and the revolutionary history that was inked by its ancestors.

As a counter to the multitude of criticism, the university answered it in the following manner. “Anyone who perceives the design of the Leuphana central building as a provocation or as a foreign body has probably come to terms too much with the surrounding area and with what it stands for. New beginnings, hope and courage can only be conveyed by a place that breaks with what is already there. The Leuphana central building stands at right angles to the axis of the campus, which was once a barracks, in order to question the past and stir up memories. From the Universitätsallee it protrudes like a pointer from the escape of the barracks to show that something is being created here for the future: the realization of the vision of contributing to an open society as a university in the province. The new central building is an essential prerequisite for this.”

Zentralgebäude by Ar. Daniel Libeskind is a structure that is hashed by abundant rebukes. Noted for its disturbing forms and deranging existence, yet the building stands still in juxtaposition. Fulfilling Ar. Daniel Libeskind’s primary intent, to hard stamp an indelible memory.

Vajjrashri Anand
Author

Vajjrashri Anand is an architecture student who reads places and people like a story worth being told. She believes architecture is a lot like life; made of wonder, beauty and hurt. She strives to constantly evolve. A nuisance, a delight. A sting, a smile. She's a soul hugging one word at a time.

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