Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg

Reconstruction and modernization of the heritage-protected university rooms — Grabenstraße 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany — 15,000 m² — Vermögen und Bau Baden-Württemberg, Amt Mannheim und Heidelberg — 2011

Historical Heritage, Contemporary Design

With its 14 lecture theatres, the new auditorium and the senate hall, the New University is the most significant lecture building complex in the historic city of Heidelberg. blocher partners renewed façades and roof surfaces, renovated large parts of the architecture including the lecture theatres and fundamentally modernised the building infrastructure, amongst others.
Another task of the renovation was to redesign the inner courtyard and its opening towards the university square - only a few steps from the historic town. By integrating a Public Box, a glass pavilion, and thus an opening of the existing façade, a flowing visual transition was created from the outer to the inner and vice versa.

The Federation of German Architects honoured the careful conversion of the historic building with the Hugo-Häring Award. The jury explained, that all interventions and new interpretations raised the already high, existing quality of the buildings which led to a qualification at a higher level.

New Architectural Accents

The equipment of the lecture theatres and the new auditorium was all about a suitable combination of heritage-protected building substance with new functional demands and stylish elements. Lecture theatre 13 is dominated by a ceiling strip made of various lacquered metal lamellas, combined with light fittings, which form an impressive room sculpture.
The new auditorium now offers all the technical features of a lecture theatre. Simultaneously, it preserves the solemn aura of the room which is ever increased by the ceiling construction. This framework does not only meet the acoustic pre-requisites for lectures and concert performances, but also demonstrates a lighting technology to create specific different lighting moods. This will surely make the new auditorium very attractive for events. The accessibility to the gallery was also revised: Instead of the external staircases, two new staircases - directly in the hall - provide a straight connection between both levels. In addition, the organ, which has been in disuse for more than twenty years, was restored and put in a new place on the former choir loft.

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