Roommates are a fact of student life. But what about an entire academic institution sharing accommodations? In Mönchen-gladbach, Germany, outside Düsseldorf, a building by Kadawittfeldarchitektur offers joint occupancy to the Hochschule Niederrhein, University of Applied Sciences, and an energy and water company, NEW.
Named for the shiny blue facade, the NEW-Blauhaus is a five-story, 54,400-square-foot pentagon. It contains administrative offices and a library for the Hochschule Niederrhein, its student innovation lab, an incubator for start-up businesses, and a customer service center for NEW, which sees the Passivhaus project as a way to promote the latest developments in energy. “We show that the building is producing or saving energy all day,” principal Kilian Kada says.
On most of the distinctive blue facade, windows alternate with photovoltaic panels to form a grid. The photovoltaic panels are replaced by coated glass where solar yield is negligible, on the north elevation. As day cycles into night, the reflective surfaces change in a complex play of light and shadow.
The diurnal concept continues inside with a sophisticated, graduated palette for furnishings, rubber flooring, and paint. On the ground level, a reddish color symbolizes dawn. That transitions through purple and pale blue until, finally, the top level’s cobalt blue accents represent dusk.