In Europe’s second largest baroque castle schneider+schumacher have created a modern study and conference center for Mannheim Business School, which was officially opened today. A decommissioned boiler room and its associated coal cellar dating from the 1950s have been transformed into landscape art at Mannheim’s palace. “Dug into the garden, the new complex and the historic building together form a remarkable new entity, yet in a stylistic idiom that is unequivocally 21st century, proving that the future is firmly rooted in the past”, claims Michael Schumacher who, together with Till Schneider, owns schneider+schumacher.
Copyright: Joerg Hempel
At the end of 2013, the state of Baden-Württemberg tendered a negotiation procedure for the construction project and in January 2014 schneider+schumacher was awarded the contract. The Mannheim and Heidelberg Office of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Assets and Construction Management Department acted as clients. On an area totalling 1700m2, a modern and bright campus has emerged with a generous forum, two lecture rooms, a conference room, and ten spaces for group work. On entering the new building, one overlooks the entire lecture room complex, with views extending to the garden – there is nothing reminiscent of a coal cellar here. A wide glass frontage opens up the study and conference center to the palace garden, which dips down at this point like an ancient Greek theatre, offering students a green landscaped external space that extends over the roof of the building.
Copyright: Kirsten Bucher
The doors and carpeting, right through to the desks and chairs are all coloured red – in contrast, and as a complementary colour to the green of the castle garden. The ceiling above the rows of seating in each lecture theatre is gently vaulted. With the aid of indirect lighting the space appears heightened, carrying on a tradition established by those who originally built the palace, who interpreted ceilings as representing an endless heaven and painted them accordingly. Panes of glass provide acoustic separation between individual spaces and are arranged so that they generate multiple reflections, making the space appear larger and more complex than its simple geometric form would suggest. This mirroring effect, together with the reflections of the green lawn and red lecture theatres gives rise to a multi-facetted play of light.
Till Schneider and Michael Schumacher founded schneider+schumacher in Frankfurt am Main in 1988. Their legendary information box, erected shortly after reunification on what was then the largest construction site in Berlin, brought the office worldwide recognition. Since then more than 100 buildings, urban development projects and numerous product designs have emerged. The office’s spectrum ranges from housing to industrial buildings, a highway church to high-rises, and from museum work to a particle accelerator. Award-winning architectural and urban development schemes include the Westhafen, an extension to the historic Städel Museum as well as the sustainably refurbished Silvertower project. Most recent accolades include the gold-coloured DOXX in Mainz, designed with bb22, the DGNB Platinum certified Parks Department Office in Frankfurt, and a redesign of external landscaping for the office complex „die welle“.