Center of Advanced European Studies and Research CAESAR

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Bonn, Germany

Client

Foundation CAESAR

Architects

BMBW Architekten + Partner

Construction period

2000-2003

Net floor area

14,400 m2

Cubic content

122,500 m3

The foundation of CAESAR in 1995 by initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany and the federal state of North-Rhine-Westphalia was a political signal to strengthen Bonn as a scientific region. This foundation under private law was to compensate the city for the move of the Federal Government to Berlin. CAESAR is not organised in the classical way with a pyramidal personnel structure, but is based on smaller, more flexible work teams of changing size that work on temporary, result-orientated projects.

Research work concentrates on scientific, technological, and social key disciplines of the 21st century. In a strongly multi-disciplinary approach, the centre operates at the overlap of physics, chemistry, biology,

Birds Eye View OverlappingBell Northern Research Buildings

from left to right

The bird's-eye view shows the strict layout of the building and the connected greenhouse | View from the southwest showing the three separate volumes: the administration wing with the casino and underground parking access, the unostentatious box-shaped laboratory wing, and the wavy office wing | The main entrance with its large forecourt | The main characteristic of the lecture hall and the two-storey library is the double-layered and double-bent point-supported façade

from left to right

The bird's-eye view shows the strict layout of the building and the connected greenhouse | View from the southwest showing the three separate volumes: the administration wing with the casino and underground parking access, the unostentatious box-shaped laboratory wing, and the wavy office wing | The main entrance with its large forecourt | The main characteristic of the lecture hall and the two-storey library is the double-layered and double-bent point-supported façade mathematics, medicine, and information and engineering technology. The programme reflects the requirements of such topics as "Nanotechnology - new materials and miniaturising" (work field of experimental physics), "Connection of electronic and biological systems" (work field of experimental biology) and "Communication ergonomics" (work field of data processing, theoretical analysis, and simulation).

The competition-winning design is characterised by a typologically optimised arrangement of the functional units. Three linearly organised volumes are rigorously ordered, zoned, and stacked according to the degree of required mechanical services. The sound building composition is based on these three elements whose specific outer appearance is derived from their inner functional logic.

The decision for the particular site in the southernmost part of Rheinauen Park in Bonn followed a painstaking search based on thorough consideration of complex criteria. Apart from meeting general requirements like traffic connections, quality of the urban environment, or proximity of other research facilities in the so-called "ABC region" (Aachen, Bonn, Cologne), the design above all had to ensure a smooth operation of the technical equipment. Potential disruptions had to be considered, e.g. electromagnetic fields (for example from railway lines), vibrations caused by heavy-duty trucks, or practically inevitable low fre quency vibrations caused by bow waves of ships on the nearby Rhine River. These factors are - apart from other site factors - of essential importance for the inner organisation and the allocation of services, apparatuses, and equipment on the net floor area.

The park, which does not include any other buildings, is the preferred recreational space for the people of Bonn and Bad Godesberg. Therefore, the harmonious integration of the complex into the park context was another fundamental planning criteria. The building is located at the border between Bonn's built-up area and the public park and has not been fenced in to preserve the free circulation of pedestrians and cyclists as far as possible. In contrast to the prominent main

façade facing the city, a wavy office wing faces the park. It is raised on stilts, thus leaving space for a rainwater reservoir underneath. The "wave movement" was motivated by functional considerations; it also creates more floor area. At the same time, it relates the project to the meadows of the Rhine River and provides a smooth spatial transition from the building into the park.

The delivery zone and access route for vehicles make skilful use of the level difference between the main street Ludwig-Erhard-Allee and the lower Rheinauen Park and is discretely placed between the two parallel volumes near the street.

The research centre consists of three volumes serving entirely different functions. Facing the city, the linear, transparent two-storey entrance building houses shared facilities as the lecture hall, library, casino, and generous exhibition spaces. A separate volume dominates the forecourt of the main entrance; its skin of double-bent, point-supported twin glass façade accommodates the lecture hall among other spaces. This part of CAESAR strives to create a public platform for the presentation of research results and exhibitions of related fields. The four-storey building in the middle is also a linear volume. Organised along a central access corridor, it is of great functional and spatial density. Central and single service ducts shafts in conjunction with plant rooms and technical infra structure in the basement and on the top floor create ideal work conditions. The wavy three-storey office volume faces east towards the park. It is elevated on stilts and comprises one-sided offices for theoretical research.

In the laboratory and office wings, thematically related areas are positioned face to face. This way, four laboratory units on three levels each are directly linked to the offices. This generates a high flexibility for the allocation of spaces for varying research projects and also reduces the distance between laboratories and studies for analysis. Three bridges on two levels lead from the entrance building to the laboratory wing.

The laboratory wing meets all requirements in terms of functional flexibility. Based on an interior fit-out grid of 1.15 m, a structurally and economically sound reinforced concrete frame building was developed consisting of load-bearing exterior walls, reinforcing cores, and ceilings without joists.

On the basement level of the laboratory wing, central facilities like clean room, analytical laboratories, and scientific workshops are located. A greenhouse laboratory that is connected to the main complex underground was freely placed in the park. On Level -2, next to the greenhouse, high-resolution electron microscopes are positioned. The distance to the main building prevents the influence of electromagnetic fields and structurally detaches the area to avoid vibration impact.

The "laboratory spine" is a rigorous, solid 150 m long, 17 m tall and 15 m wide volume with a façade with punched windows that reduces solar heat gain. The reflecting and constantly changing stainless steel cladding takes away the heaviness of this façade - it almost seems to de-materialise it. The entrance building is comparable in the sense that it appears open and inviting.

The prominent wave-figure of the office wing is enhanced by the horizontal layering of the escape balconies. It represents movement-cum-architecture and

- in conjunction with the landscape design - supports the integration of the complex into the open space of Rheinauen Park.

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Ground floor plan

Upper floor plan

Section through foyer

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Research Center Building

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