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Mensa Moltke – Student Canteen Karlsruhe University Architect: J. MAYER H Location: Karlsruhe, Germany Completion: 2006 GFA: 2,355m2 Photography: David Franck

A new canteen for the Technical College, Teacher Training College and the State Academy for Fine Art has been completed north of the Moltkestrasse. This new address will form an attractive new centre for the campus where the disciplines can meet, eat and exchange ideas. The canteen locates in the Moltkestrasse in the transitional zone between the built up campus to the south and the natural open space of the Hartwald Forest to the north. This is a spot where the character of the campus area is particularly clear. The orientation of the building, with its generously glazed façades, is towards the urban life of the campus, from where the diners arrive. The canteen itself is composed of a generous, high and bright dining hall to the south and a compact functional area to the north, containing kitchens, storage and services. The dining hall is augmented by a shaded veranda to the south and a wind shielded terrace overlooking the Englaenderplatz, creating a flexible combination of interior and exterior dining space to suit all weather conditions. A cafeteria in the south west of the dining area can be run independently of the main canteen functions and, with its longer opening hours, offers considerable amenity to this focal point within the campus.

Sections

The layered openings of the façade are carried through to the interior of the canteen building. The colonnaded structural parallels create a depth of shifting layered perforations, where one can look through or be sheltered, referring again to the nearby forest. A spatial quality is created that plays on the themes of large scale transition from culture to nature, echoed in smaller of scale in the preparation and consumption of food. The conceptual approach to the project started from the sculptural idea of taking the largest buildable plot of land, cleaving it from the ground and organising the functions of the canteen inside the rift created. From this came the mass of stringy stem-like supports that form between the two plates as they are pulled apart, as a logical conclusion of the idea of the separation of the two horizontal planes. In this way, the roof of the building is also covered with grass, to follow the concept of a cleft plot of land lifted into the air, as well as to help create a sustainable building.

Site plan

1. The context with the built-up campus to the south and the natural open space to the north 2. A new cornerstone in the identity of the campus 3. The generously glazed façades towards the urban life of the campus

The Moltke Canteen is an essential new cornerstone in the identity of the college campus, the city of Karlsruhe and the state of Baden-Württemburg, which from its inception has attracted local and international attention.

Awards: Laureate of the Initiative “Deutschland – Land der Ideen”, 2008

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