Situated on the banks of the Rhine-Main area, the new HfG building is the first element in a condensed, urban campus in a former industrial harbor area. In the transformation of the harbor into a new urban quarter, the new university building serves as a creative campus, an expression of art and innovation that will be central to the future quarter.
The design features a vast hollow space as its main architectural, urban, and landscape element. Conceived as a 190 m x 27 m green inner courtyard, it stretches along the entire site and forms a new park along the axis of Frankfurt’s Museum Embankment. Regulations required a view through the building, which interrupts the volume and divides the university into two parts. The courtyard intersects this view and creates a link between the different departments, reconnecting the two sites. As people approach, the courtyard reveals the vibrancy of the new art campus.
The large-scale building volume is defined by a series of subtractions: the garden, the view through the building, the lines defined by the urban planning rules, a space for a possible extension, and a series of smaller cut-outs that structure the long façades of both the four-story buildings. The large-scale volume pays homage to the industrial buildings along the Main River, lending a factory-like atmosphere to these spaces for creation, reflection, mediation, and discourse.
The steel façade built from white-painted U-profiles is suspended in front of the load-bearing concrete structure, acting as a superordinate grid that joins the two building parts and their uses into a coherent unit. Several patios, loggias, and atriums structure the building volume within the grid, corresponding to the scale of the urban context. The façades of the building ensemble display a patchwork of transparent, translucent, and opaque elements that let the programming of the clusters shine through. On the south side, facing Hafenallee and the inner courtyard, high galleries open up the buildings, connecting the interior and exterior as showrooms for the university.