New Green Chemistry Lecture and Research Building

Straubing, Germany

The new „Green Chemistry“ Lecture and Research Building will expand the existing facilities of the world’s leading Competence Center for Renewable Resources in Straubing. Functionally as well as geographically the new building will be closely integrated into the existing science hub. Aside from offering additional teaching facilities it will also provide space for offices and research laboratories for the different professorships. Not only its outer appearance, but also its organization and design make it stand out as a groundbreaking and image-forming type of building, providing a prospective solution to the essential goal of a sustainable building.

The competition organizer’s wish for a functionally self-contained unit was complied with in the shape of an inner courtyard which is enclosed by different functional areas. The main lecture hall, lecture rooms and a cafeteria with outdoor seating terrace seem to grow organically into the Danube riverscape. An atrium designed as a green cocoon with plenty of light, horticultural life and water gives the semblance of an ideal place of nature. Spaces designed for communication, conversation or interdisciplinary discourse open out towards it. The intention was not to create a rectilinearly designed volume, but rather a building which would be orientated towards the centre, self-contained and with a clearly defined geometrical shape to give it identity. So while it is inward-looking and contemplative on the one hand it is also transparent and open for visitors and users alike.

More freely designed circulation areas are contrasted by stringently organized office and laboratory spaces. The individual workspaces in the offices and labs facing south, easterly and northerly directions benefit from views into the green landscape outside, whereas the meeting, tutoring or communal rooms of the different departments are orientated towards the light-filled atrium. Corridors and access routes have been articulated as spaces for communication, open out to the inner courtyard across balconies and provide fast access between offices and labs through generous staircases.

Due to its location in the floodplains of the river Danube the three-storeyed building has been elevated and is protected in the South by a flood wall. The level surface beneath is used as a carpark. Woody plants along the riverside road continue in front of the wall up to the entrance area and guide the way to the existing campus. A large bay at the main entrance links into the network of public paths and bicycle paths of the river bank, welcoming visitors in though ample staircases and ramps into the three-storey atrium. Together with the green inner courtyard this creates a public space which is completely permeable for the scientific life within and functions as the beating heart of the building. The façade with its curtain of wooden louvers of different depths and angles of inclination give the building a unique character. The louvers capture natural light and redirect it to the workplaces, infusing the rooms with the warm glow of the timber structure.

The extraordinary architectural design of the Research Center provides the setting for lively activity and communication and a wide palette of different moods and spatial experiences. Its function and outer appearance, aesthetic as well as ecological value are the product of careful tailoring and farsighted design.


Straubing, Germany


Freistaat Bayern, vertreten durch das Staatliche Bauamt Passau


Behnisch Architekten, München


Uferstrasse / Petergasse
94315 Straubing


2015, one 1st prize