College Buildings I and II, Universität Stuttgart - Stuttgart - Germany
Before equals after. Care and repair express appreciation for the best of existing elements. The comprehensive refurbishment and modernization of a 1960s building is carried out like a sensitive repair, and the authentic, bare character of its origin lives on.
The two college buildings of the Universität Stuttgart (CBI 1960 / CBII 1965), designed by a team consisting of Rolf Gutbier, Kurt Siegel, and Günter Wilhelm, are considered to be seminal works of the so-called New Stuttgart School. A “rough and raw endeavor” is how Wilhelm described the concept of the twin high-rise buildings. “Raw, visible concrete, no plastering, and not a brushstroke on the supporting frame and walls of the space – only the most concise forms and colors [used] in the few additional parts and elements“. Today, fifty years later and in renovated condition, this stringent minimalism in the two buildings still makes itself felt.
In the course of the general renovations the buildings’ serviced system was replaced entirely, extensive pollution abatement was undertaken, a new fire protection concept was implemented and, in the case of MBII, the roof and the north façade were renovated; still, the buildings’ appearance remained unchanged. The responsible office, Heinle, Wischer and Partners, whose founders in the late 1950s and early 1960s were involved in the planning and realization of the existing building, opted for a strategy of preservation: the maintenance of the visible buildings, their look and feel, and internal logic held absolute priority.
A comprehensive building inventory served as the basis for all restorative measures. “We were constantly discovering new details that both impressed and challenged us to uphold the buildings’ intelligence and aesthetic”, explained project manager Mo Horn. Bearing the traces of their forty years of use, the raw concrete, exposed brickwork, and wood surfaces have been largely preserved.
Only where absolutely necessary were parts replaced, keeping them identical to the original where possible; above all, everything was cleaned.
The technical facilities were for the most part replaced – here, too, the architects worked in the style of the original, making selective contemporary updates: “Our approach consisted of precise observation, appraisal, reflecting, and undertaking sustainable action – in order to also use the existing funds as sparingly as possible”.
In CBII, for example, the south façade was fitted with interior insulation only along the parapet; the original aluminium windows themselves continue to be used.
The underground reading areas were intentionally left completely in their original state. The respect with which the architects approached the buildings was shared equally by the client, the University Building Authority. Many of those involved in the refurbishment of these buildings, which happen to house the university’s architectural faculty, had once studied there themselves.