School Cheer pix
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 1/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Plastic-film lettering identifies the stand for snacks and sundries in the lobby of the economics building at the Universität Hamburg in Germany.
Student notices appear on colored paper sandwiched between a 43-foot-long message board's plastic backing and glass surface.
Lining the rubber floor, ganged seating in molded plastic is equipped with custom tables in powder-coated aluminum.
Athlon, a resin laminate, clads the front of the information kiosk. The sides are sandblasted glass.
From "B1" indicates a lecture hall.
When the snacks-and-sundries stand is closed, an aluminum blind descends. WALL LAMINATE: TRESPA; LK INNENAUSBAU (INSTALLATION). CUSTOM SEATING, TABLES: PIEPER METALLBAU. CARPENTRY: TISCHLEREI MEHLIG. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: GENERAL AUTOMATIC. HVAC CONTRACTOR: LUSEBRINK. LIGHTING CONSULTANT: PREDIGER LICHTBERATER. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: WETZEL VON SEHT.
|If economics is the dismal science, then the economics department at the Universität Hamburg in Germany must have been downright depressed. Erected in the 1970's, this six-story concrete building resembled a "really ugly bunker," says André Poitiers Architekt's namesake principal, who recently updated the lobby.
Part of the new wave of iconoclastic German architects, this Foster and Partners alum is best known for revamping the bakery chain Dat Backhus. None of its 30 branches look alike. Instead, each interior takes its cues from the external architecture, then incorporates horizontal lines, graphic lettering, and streamlined stainless steel to innovative effect.
While his approach to the economics lobby likewise involves large-scale graphics and linear systems, he had to look beyond the building's for- bidding exterior for inspiration. The lobby itself was equally grim, a dark and cavernous space with an exposed concrete ceiling and red-brick walls, the dreariness relieved by only a few random tables in a corner where students sold refreshments.
A stand for snacks and sundries now stands at one end of the 7,500-square-foot space, an information desk at the other. Both kiosks are long yellow boxes of Athlon, a resin laminate that resists scratching and chemical spills. "The fact that the product is also 'green' makes it perfect," Poitiers says.
Between these two anchors, in the center of the lobby, he set out precise rows of ganged seating that intentionally evokes an airport—another location, he points out, where people are constantly arriving, departing, or meeting up with others. (Be- sides, a penchant for efficient seating may be in his blood: He did a stint in his family's yacht-building business before becoming an architect.) His Universität Hamburg versions lighten up a contract standard, with seats of white molded plastic and integral tables of yellow powder-coated aluminum.
To Poitiers's mind, yellow was the perfect antidote to the building's concrete brutalism. "It's light, it's bright, and it's friendly," he says. He chose black, meanwhile, for the succinct, supersize signage indicating faculty offices and lecture halls. "We live in a world of communication overload. If you want to transmit information, it should be very clear," he explains.
Helping the department's 4,200 students to communicate among themselves, Poitiers conceived a 43-foot-long message board. Its transparent glass surface allows anyone to slip notices of all kinds behind—for roommates, arts events, items for sale. He even went so far as to specify the type of paper used: sheets in the happiest shades of red, orange, blue, or green.