Project data
Universität Mühlheim

Ruhr West University, Mülheim an der Ruhr


Competition 2010, 2nd Prize


Building and real estate management NRW, Münster

Project Partner:

In collaboration with Planquadrat, Angela Bezzenberger (Landscape architecture and ecology)


Bollinger und Grohmann (structure), HL-Technik Engineering Partner GmbH (electrical and building-installation)

Building Type:

University campus, 4 institutes, library, lecture hall, cafeteria


48.200 sqm GFA

Principle Idea of the New Ruhr West University – Matrix Structure between Institutes and Study Programs

The principle thought for the new Ruhr West University is developed based on the idea of a novel matrix structure between institutes and study programs. This requires a flexible basic structure with high quality opportunities for teaching and research as well as open communication areas in both inside and outside spaces.


Interconnectivity and Flexibility

Architecturally, this matrix scheme is formed as a communicative, interconnected structure that integrates various faculties and institutes as well as central facilities such as the cafeteria, library, lecture hall and seminar building.

Thereby, a maximum level of flexibility is created for the work structure, while developing a campus with high quality communication space, high recognition factor and an own identity.


Dialog between the faculties

The campus is organized around the central forum. The buildings of four faculties as well as the common facilities such as the cafeteria, auditorium building and library are arranged around this central area.

From this public forum, rising levels each develop in the form of stairs, seating steps and terraced yards that reach into the adjacent building and link the circulation and open spaces within the building with the more public central outdoor area.

This results in the height development inside the individual buildings facing the forum. This design element and the large openings, create better visual connections and differentiated transitions towards the outside area. The spatial separation between the external space and the building structure is removed in a way that various buildings interconnect and form a structural framework for an interdisciplinary overall organism for the university campus.

The campus represents an open and communicative architecture towards the inner forum, especially through the flowing transitional spaces. The forum and the semi-public areas in each building, create a representative stage for the students and an inviting gesture for the guests and citizens of the city. However, on the other hand, the campus stands out with clear building edges towards the surrounding cityscape.


Exterior Spaces

The development of the university campus on a former railway property demonstrates the dynamic process of transforming urban spaces. This image of urban transformation is conveyed through the vibrancy of vegetation and different soil surfaces.

The open space of the campus is defined by a large-sized meshwork of concrete plates. Islands, out of stone benches reflect the patterns of the surface. They are places to meet and to stay with an identity-forming function. Willows provide a roof over them, setting seasonally varying color accents around the year. They moderate between the scale of the buildings and the surfaces, thus generating an own urban space.

The circulation zones reaching deep into the buildings create a uniform picture with the campus' central open space through the variations in surfaces. The yards have the same design and appearance as the open spaces of the campus.


Terraced Yards

The institute buildings are designed as courtyard typology. Small-scale research areas, group around the inner spaces.

The central circulation and orientation element is the cascade-shaped staircase. The adherent communication areas are linked with the staggered levels of the courtyards. Such space concept supports the interdisciplinary collaboration within the faculties. The compact building structure allows for short distances and internal communication paths.



The consistent elements of the façade of individual buildings illustrate the university campus as a harmonious whole. This is further accentuated through color nuances and the formation of different building heights.