Personalized esthetic appeal

Interview with Rainer Hofmann




The accommodation situation in university cities is often precarious. Students in particular often pay too much rent for little quality. Residential buildings designed specifically for students offer a purpose-oriented and comparatively inexpensive method of accommodation. Architect firm "bogevischs buero" from Munich has designed a number of these houses over the past few years – including the "Panzerwiese" in Munich built in 2010 and the more recent "Upper West Side" erected in Ulm in 2014. Rainer Hofmann, proprietor of the firm of architects, bases his ideas on the quality of common areas and a flexible design – with regard to both furnishings and large facade surfaces.

Mr Hofmann, how should buildings for students be constructed in your opinion?

Our experience shows that the service areas and common spaces in residential complexes consisting of many individual apartments are of particular importance. This is where planned and informal encounters take place that play a major role with regard to the students' identification and socialization with their temporary place of residence.


Apartment layout in the students' halls of residence "Panzerwiese"



The general trend when designing student accommodation is moving away from the traditional "halls of residence" towards shared accommodation and apartments with their own bathroom and kitchenette. To what extent have the demands of students changed with regard to space, comfort and privacy?

Accommodation complexes for students offer space for social communities that still reflect a basic need that cannot be discussed into oblivion in spite of the omnipresent virtual social spaces. The demand for space to withdraw has increased significantly in recent years. There is a need for association, but only if the ability to withdraw remains an option. This is why it is virtually impossible to rent out mini-apartments that do not have a personal bathroom. Two different models are still in demand when it comes to shared cooking facilities: apartments with their own micro-kitchens and those that share a common kitchen. Experience shows that shared apartments with common bathrooms only work today if the user group is small.

What else did you place an emphasis on when designing the accommodation complexes in Ulm and Munich?

In addition to the functionality of the rooms and attractive designs for meeting points and service zones, the design of the facades on these large buildings also played an important role for us. The challenge here was to give the buildings an external face in spite of the many rooms and windows.

Functional facade design with esthetic appeal: "Upper West Side" in Ulm



Sun and privacy screens are always a part of any facade design – they are defining architectural elements. You opted for sliding shutters on both residential complexes for students. Was your choice driven mainly by reasons of esthetic appeal?

Indeed, the main reasons were esthetic in nature: the shutters end up in many different positions due to their customized use – this in turn leads to a welcome vitalization of an otherwise very reserved facade design.

The shutters on the "Upper West Side" complex in Ulm have a special design feature: they seem to disappear into the reveal when folded together. What did it take to unite these conditions of design and esthetic appeal?

In addition to the desire to design the facade in this degree of detail, it took a lot of staying power and a building owner willing to play along ¬– as well as an executing company that understood the underlying intention.

The folding sliding shutters on the "Panzerwiese" complex in Munich fulfill an additional special function. How did that come about?

The idea was to guide the light through the open shutters – that lie against the facade like jug ears – into the rooms. The shutters take on the function of reflectors and produce beautiful, light-flooded interior rooms. Residents can protect their rooms from too much sun at any time thanks to movable folding sliding shutters. Alongside the functional solution of providing light and shade for the rooms, this project was characterized by the complex facade designs created by the ever-changing positions of the shutters. Function and design go hand in hand.

A play of light thanks to folding sliding shutters on the facade of the "Panzerwiese" complex in Munich

Many thanks for the interview.

Back to Impulses overview

Aluminum contrasts

Contrasting window reveals in yellow-green aluminum and matching dark grey folding sliding shutters bring rhythm, change and color to the facade of the students' halls of residence in Ulm.

Aluminum constrasts

More than just a roof over one’s head

An astonishing game with red hues that change depending on the angle of view characterizes the Panzerwiese student halls of residence in Munich.

More than just a roof over one’s head

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