New Architecture in Germany

Stylish living in the smallest spaces – new design for student housing

There is a consistent and growing need for student accommodation and different projects have been launched in response to this strong demand for student housing. Three examples from Munich.

Student housing in the Olympic village, Interior, Photo: Jens Masmann

In big cities like Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Cologne or Stuttgart just ten percent of students live in residence halls. The rest have to try to find accommodation on the open market. Due to this situation, almost one quarter of these students still live at home with their parents. This is an ongoing trend. By the year 2015 experts are expecting up to 275,000 additional first year students as a result of the abolishment of compulsory military service and due to the reduction of the time spent at grammar schools (Gymnasium) to eight years. The umbrella organisation of German students’ unions is therefore demanding at least 25,000 new student accommodation places. The 58 members of this organisation have been managing and operating residence halls for students, refectories and cafeterias since the nineteen sixties.

Student apartments as a lifestyle property

Student housing at Schleißheimerstrasse Munich, Photo: Younic AG

The German Student Union (Deutsche Studentenwerk e.V.) used to be the only organisation to offer student accommodation and it is now facing competition from private investors, pension funds and insurance companies. Just recently, a real-estate subsidiary, Inter Ikea, announced its plans to develop student housing across the whole of Europe. Another company in this sector, with almost 2,200 residential units, is the Frankfurt-based Youniq AG that claims to have realised a “lifestyle student project“ with its residence hall in the Berzelius Strasse, in Munich-Freimann. This design in wood is built to the low-energy standard and is to serve as a prototype for all future construction projects: the building material is climate-neutral, fully recyclable and boasts excellent thermal insulation properties that enable a modular construction mode and reduce the time up to completion by 40%.

Italian design for students

Student housing at Schleißheimerstrasse Munich, Interior, Photo: Younic AG

The architects Matteo Thun & Partners have not designed student housing in the classic sense. Instead they have built a state-of-the-art apartment complex for better-off students, that is designed to meet modern-day needs. A project of the Milan-based architects, who were also responsible for the product design, these 123 apartments have been stylishly furnished with desk, fold-away bed, cloakroom, built-in cupboards and shelves and are fitted out with a kitchen and shower room. The Munich office g2 GROEGER UND GREULICH was in charge of the design engineering and permit planning for this project. The new complex includes 25 parking spaces, communal rooms and services such as TV and a music lounge, gymnastics room and high-speed internet access. In response to the strong demand another project was implemented at the address, Schleissheimer Strasse 323. This houses 80 apartments with an average of 22 square metres each.

Student living in Japanese style: Atelier Bow-Wow

Model student housing of the Südhausbau, Photo: Südhausbau

Taking a non-conventional approach, the company Ottmann GmbH &Co. Südhausbau KG is planning its student housing project on the Brudermühlstrasse with Japanese support. The project is set to be ready for the winter semester 2014/15. “When it comes to creating modern living solutions in the smallest spaces, architects from the densely populated urban region of Tokyo are among the leading world experts in this field”, according to Prof. Matthias Ottmann, managing director of Südhausbau. Many times Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima have shown what they can accomplish in really small spaces. The two founders of the Atelier Bow-Wow, that was launched in1992, design living and working quarters with minimal floor space.

Critical historic preservation: The Olympic Village

Student housing in the Olympic Village, Central Place, Photo: Jens Masmann

The small maisonette apartments were rebuilt between 2007 and 2010 and are 4 square metres smaller than those of the original women’s quarters designed for the 1972 Olympic Games. Because in-depth studies made it evident that a refurbishment of the listed historic ensemble - upholding the architectural quality of the original bungalow village built by Prof. Werner Wirsing - would not be cost efficient, the Munich students’ union decided to rebuild the complex and to focus on a “critical historic preservation”.

Student housing in the Olympic Village, Photo: Jens Masmann

To this end, bogevischs buero, the winners of the competition, completely downsized the existing buildings, in teamwork with Werner Wirsing, born 1919, leaving just twelve units restored in compliance with the guidelines for monument preservation, and rebuilt the complex on the same area with approximately the same shape and dimensions. The architects maximised the available space and redensified the complex with an extra 252 apartments, providing 1052 apartments in total.

Student housing at the Olympic Village, Self made facade design, Photo: Julia Knop

With these changes the character of the ensemble has been maintained as much as possible, expressing individuality and ensuring minimal disturbance. The carpet-like structure with rows of houses of different lengths is still crossed by diagonal passages, and the width of the alleyways has been kept to 2.30 metres. The “Little Marienplatz” is still in the centre of the ensemble and Stauss and Pedrazzini have carefully refined the signposting system originally developed by Otl Aicher. Communal facilities include a pub with “student-oriented” prices, a disco, coffee shop, film club and a crèche. And last but not least, the residents will again have the right to paint over the fair-faced concrete façade of “their” little houses in their own style during their maximum stay of six semesters.

Jochen Paul
worked as an editor for Bauwelt in Berlin until 1999. For over ten years he has been working as a freelance journalist and author on architecture and design for journals, magazines and online services. As of 2012 he has been responsible for press and public relations at E2A Eckert Eckert Architekten in Zürich. He is a member of the Bavarian sector of the German work federation Deutschen Werkbunds Bayern and the German design history society Deutschen Gesellschaft für Designgeschichte.

Translation: Sally Habel
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
November 2012

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