The final, and most social component of the 8000 sqm campus of the FOM Hochschulzentrum (University Center), the largest privately owned institution in Germany, is a formal pavilion designed to function as an annex to its main building.
The pavilion seen here with the University campus in the background Image: David Franck
Designed by Jürgen Mayer, the extensive campus is located in Quartier Central, a vital urban neighbourhood rapidly emerging from the grounds of a former cargo train station in Duesseldorf. This pavilion, built five years after the completion of the main university building is nestled into the outer end of the Stadtpark and closes off the landscaped area crossed by the renatured Duessel River. Program-wise, the standalone structure offers around 100 sqm of indoor area with shaded outdoor terraces underneath its cantilevered roof.
Cantilevered concrete roof at the pavilion’s entrance Image: David Franck
The exposed concrete roof provides an extended gathering space connecting indoors and outdoors Image: David Franck
J. Mayer H. and the firm established with his fellow partners Architekten mbB, is an international award-winning practice with projects at the intersection of architecture, communication, and new technology. Their proposal for the university’s primary structure was functional in 2017, characterised by its neo-Brutalist facade and curving cantilevered balconies. The appeal of Juergen Mayer’s original work lies in its sweeping dark façade, prominent glazing, and the insertion of soft curves to keep it from being perceived as stark.
Soft curves keep the building from perceived as stark Image: David Franck
The term Brutalism comes from the French béton-brut—literally “raw concrete”—the movement’s signature material. Today, we use the term Brutalism in dual contexts. It often refers to the original post-war movement in British architecture, where a large number of government offices were rebuilt in concrete, a relatively low-cost material at the time. The moniker also applies to sculptural re-imaginations of Brutalist ideologies in the 1960s-70s leading up to the Modernist era that travelled all over the world.
The exposed concrete exterior is reminiscent of Brutalist architecture Image: David Franck
“The design aesthetic of the university building is mirrored in the pavilion, albeit executed using a distinct material,” explains Principal Architect Jürgen Mayer H, when asked about the fluid forms of the pavilion. While the primary functions are strictly enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glazing, in a fashion similar to the University’s, angled concrete members extend upward from the ground, almost pretending to hold it in place. The same members extend out at the roof level, creating dynamic outdoor spaces that are shaded by the elements. The free-form design of these supports is a response to the organic, carefree landscaping that skirts the building. The starkness of the exposed concrete arms is a reminder of the Brutalist history of German architecture from the past. FOM’s latest pavilion is reminiscent of buildings like the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, completed in 1974 or the Embassy of Czechoslovakia, finished in 1978, both located in Berlin. All of these monumental structures feature exposed concrete, expressionist exteriors, and rectilinear planes.
Angled concrete members extend upward from the ground all around the full-height glazing Image: David Franck
In contrast to its architecture, the Pavilion is surrounded by an amorphous green landscape designed by landscape architecture firm Lützow 7, that is woven through various points of access to the university building. A soft soil sculpture encloses the unit and covers the underground garage beneath. As an addition to the university building, the pavilion provides spaces for seminars, lectures, or workshops, as well as social gatherings. Functionally an extension of the overall scheme of the campus, its visual separation enables it to retain its independence and individuality. Its scenic setting amidst the greenery allows the university to breathe vitality into the public realm.
The Pavilion is surrounded by an amorphous green landscape that is woven through various points of access to the university building Image: David Franck
The Pavilion lights up at night Image: David Franck
J. Mayer H. Architects, through the design of this pavilion, have effectively placed the cherry on the cake, so to speak. As the final piece in the university’s design, the Pavilion’s modern glazing enhances the aesthetics and functionality of the structure. Its unique location on campus, within a stretch of natural lawn, generates a bright and exciting atmosphere that promotes learning. To top it all off, its material choices are a subtle nod to its nation’s past, while looking ahead to the future.
The Pavilion is an inviting social venue on the FOM University campus Image: David Franck
Name: FOM University Pavilion
Location: Dusseldorf, Germany
Partner in charge: Jürgen Mayer H., Hans Schneider
Freelance Architect / project leader: Sebastian Finckh
Team: Ana I. Alonso, Max Magorskyi, Mehrdad Mashaie
Client: Gemeinnützige Fördergesellschaft für Bildung und Wissenschaft mbH
Gross Floor Area: 100qm
Architect on site: Starmans Architeturbüro /GAARKO Gablik Architektur
Structural Engineers: Thomas & Boekamp Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH
Building Services: Brockof Ingenieure
Fire Protection: IDN Brandschutz GmbH
Landscape Architects: Lützow 7