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Award for New Building

Recognition by National Association of German Architects

№ 218/2015 from Jul 08, 2015

Just five weeks after the new building for small departments was officially opened at Freie Universität, it received an award from the National Association of German Architects (BDA). At a cost of approximately 52 million euros, the new building is an extension of the complex housing several humanities and social science subjects. In the extension, 14 subdepartments of the Department of History and Cultural Studies that had previously been spread across the campus in Dahlem were consolidated under one roof. The award was presented as part of the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the BDA in Berlin. The building on Fabeck Street at the center of the Dahlem campus was designed by Munich-based star architect Florian Nagler. It also contains a library with holdings from 24 separate institutes and subdepartments, including subjects from mathematics and the natural sciences.

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The selection committee described the new building as being a successful complement to the existing building complex, which was designed and built during an idealistic period in the 1960s, but which continues to be a problematic building. The new building picks up on the structure of the original building, dubbed Rost- und Silberlaube (rust and silver pergola) and carries this structure over into the new section, which is dubbed Holzlaube (wooden pergola). The designation "wooden pergola" stands for the ambivalent commitment to reconcile the programmatic continuation of the existing building with latent criticism of the structuralist predecessors. The new complex is a building that no longer reflects the enthusiasm for the structuralist ideas of the 1960s and 1970s, but is committed to the historicity of the location and utilizes the formal language of the existing complex as the basis for its own design principles.

When the smaller departments moved into the new building, Freie Universität gave up several of the villas that these institutes had been using and that were spread about in various locations on the Dahlem campus. The institute libraries had also been housed in the separate villas and are now consolidated within the new Campus Library, which has 30 kilometers of books. Structurally the library is part of the fully renovated library of the Department of Education and Psychology in the Silberlaube, which is now integrated in the Campus Library. A total of 24 libraries from various institutes and subdepartmental libraries make up the holdings of the new integrated library, including five subjects in mathematics and science.

In addition to the Campus Library, the new building has more than 220 offices and reading rooms for scholars, twelve seminar rooms, and three lecture halls. With its one- to three-story construction and the numerous landscaped courtyards, the architecture of the new building fits well with the architectural structure of the previously built Rost- und Silberlaube. The façade is paneled with cedar. Many common areas and lounges in the building provide opportunities for communication. The new building is fully accessible and complies with the latest environmental standards.

Further Information

Freie Universität Berlin, Office of News and Public Affairs, Tel.: +49 30 838-73180, Email: