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Leuphana central building: Geometries versus Uniformity architecture in Luneburg

Luneburg. Germany. Against uniformity and "marching grids", Daniel Libeskind designed the acute-angled, asymmetrical central building of Leuphana University, which our guest author Ludwig Moos visited several times, including for the Lower Saxony Music Days. In his photo report he shows why Libeskind scores again with a jagged house.

"The world is constantly changing, however, and you have to include this change in the world, this aspect in your work. You mustn't tell a fairy tale while building. You have to reflect the world as it is, and the reality of the world is simply radical. And the building must reflect that truth. "

Daniel Libeskind, architect, on Deutschlandfunk Kultur on April 27, 2012

The building could hardly have been more symbolic. Acutely angled, with sloping walls and asymmetrical window surfaces in the shiny facades made of titanium sheet, the new Leuphana central building on the eastern edge of the campus is positioned across the brick blocks of the former Scharnhorst barracks, which have served as accommodation for the University of Lüneburg since 1994. Daniel Libeskind could not have wished for a better contrast for his provocative building than the old buildings from 1935. Three years before he sketched his first draft, he complained in his 2004 autobiography "Breaking Ground" about ...:

"The tyranny of the grid! I'm constantly fighting against it: Buildings that are designed like a chessboard, with repetitive structures that all march in the same direction. But life is not about marching grids."

Daniel Libeskind

The protest was to be expected. Even before the foundation stone was laid on May 8, 2011, the deliberately chosen anniversary of the German surrender, there was plenty of criticism. Above all, the Greens and Left in the Lower Saxony state parliament and the ASta of the University of Lüneburg called the planned 58 million euros for the project a bad investment. Magnificent building or monument of extravagance were still the milder mockery words, the public malice increased significantly, especially after the delays in construction and the increase in costs to over 100 million. Opened in March 2017 with a three-year delay, the building will start operating in the winter semester. Now it has to show how it works in everyday life.
The standard is high. Leuphana has devised a special study model with an interdisciplinary profile for its 9,000 students. In its four faculties for education, culture, economics and sustainability, it relies heavily on socio-economic responsibility and the dovetailing of science and practice. Aesthetically challenging and ecologically thoughtful, with a multitude of changing perspectives and open to encounters, the architecture of the central building should help strengthen curiosity about knowledge and the desire for exchange.
For an initial orientation, it is advisable to wander around the complex structure. Meter by meter, the four structures shift against one another, the perspective depth changes, and the wealth of variants of geometric shapes is surprising. No less astonishing is the experience of the rooms inside, their stimulating design and the variety of their functions.

"For the new central building of Leuphana, I was inspired by the spirit of this university. I experience Leuphana as an incubator for new ideas, innovation, research and discovery. The new building is also permeated by these elements."

Daniel Libeskind at the opening