Neue Schauspielschule Hannover
Master’s thesis Winter 2020/21

Published by the Institute of Design and Building Typology (Prof. i.V. Ruben Lang).

A new, central location for all institutes of the drama department at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media is to be planned near the train station by rebuilding the Deutsche Bahn parking lot. The individual departments are currently located at the site on the former Expo grounds, which is to be abandoned and consolidated in the building to be planned. The drama course is to be brought back to the city, thus exploiting synergies through the (re)gained proximity to the other departments of the university. In the course of this, an enlargement of the existing department will also be undertaken in order to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for the course.

The scope of planning includes a new building with approximately 10,000 m² of gross floor area based on the space program, which assumes a main usable area of 4,565 m².

The centrally located site, not far from Hanover’s main train station, is situated at the corner of Augustenstraße and Königstraße. It is bordered to the west by the elevated railroad line. Towards the east and north it is framed by the 4 to 5-storey perimeter block development. The narrowest part of the property ends at Königstraße. The property has an area of approx. 4,900 m².

Two smaller (interim) buildings at the northern end of the site are available for the design task. It may be attached to the railroad track wall. There is no height restriction for the new building to be designed for the Drama Department of the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media.

The exterior areas are to be attractively designed in accordance with the future use. In addition to the functional requirements for access and development of the building, areas with quality of stay for the users and networking potentials in the city of Hanover are to be provided within the scope of possibilities. Special attention is paid to the address formation and the findability of the building as well as the design of the new entrance and access situation. In this context, the question of the arrangement and design of the main entrance must also be clarified, which should be equally functional and appealing to users and guests.

The architectural design of the new building should do justice to the theme of the drama school but also to the urban environment. The barrier-free access structure inside the building should allow for easy orientation. The central areas and in particular the studio stages should be easy to find, also for guests. The foyer should fulfill its function as a central contact point for students and teachers of all disciplines. At the same time, the entrance area should also be designed in an appealing way for guests attending the theater performances in the studio stages.

The design uses the advantages of the open block edge, such as noise protection, the separation of the public and private spheres, and also creates a “campus character”: a dynamic frequency that allows and encourages encounters.

The start of the path (south) is marked by a small park. As a homage to the forecourt of the opera house, the “opera triangle”, it wants to be understood as a green jewel of the theater building.

A coarse-grained, highly pigmented exposed concrete wall – on which the fine-grained “light” theater cube rests and through whose openings one gets views of the most diverse spatial stagings – guides one through the campus in an exciting way. The present red, with its slightly bluish color mixture, allows, to quote Le Corbusier, “the exact estimation of the volumes” and “fixes the wall”. The black enhances and reinforces the studio character of the “black boxes. ”The drama students are the focus of the design – the visualizations deliberately show “audience-less” spaces and illustrate that they function and work even without an audience.

The three squares, with their side squares, along the path axis, differ not only in their size but also in their topographical position. The lower-lying square, is framed by the large studio, the basement of the café and the library – the artificially elevated distance to the station road ensures that students can literally stay here in peace for a longer period of time without distractions.

The “Theaterplatz” is prominently located in the middle of the building ensemble with a high public profile. Below it lies the lobby, as an internal link between all the buildings.

The design sharpens the understanding of what drama means among students, visitors and passers-by alike. Sensitizing, inspiring, stimulating – the whole space becomes a theater – whether one moves in it as a spectator or actor is entirely up to one's own decision.

The building volume is divided into three parts. The base, which adapts to the adjacent railroad line in terms of height and materiality and at the same time divides the open space into a workshop and forecourt. This serves as a link to the city and functions as an impulse for the quarter north of the main station. The horizontal structure takes up the edges of the neighboring buildings. The high point generates a superordinate reference to the opposite side of the track bed and shapes Hannover's cityscape.

An interwoven first floor and second floor are accessible to the public. Via the foyer, a partially open fundus, flexibly usable stage structures and the Werkhof, visitors are offered various insights into the facets of the play and the associated constructed illusion.

The high point houses the university's internal uses. In addition to the administration and seminar rooms, studio stages and rehearsal rooms are located there. Galleries with additional access enable visual relationships between the floors and promote communication among the students.

The different uses of both building volumes are connected by the red-pigmented concrete façade based on the floor-to-ceiling plinth, whose color scheme is based on North German brick. The interplay of open and closed façade elements in the high point is accentuated by isolated disturbances. The round window, for example, reflects the elevated studio stage to the outside. Towards the railroad tracks, a projection takes over the function of the electricity pylon and thus integrates excellently into the urban situation.

The horizontal volume is structured by a vertical division. By means of recesses in the facades, the appearance also varies during the course of the day due to a changing cast of shadows.

The design makes use of the advantages of the open block edge, such as noise protection, the separation of the public and private spheres, and also creates a “campus character": a dynamic frequency that allows and encourages encounters.

Awarded a WA Sponsorship Award

The new university building sets its address in the direction of Königstraße by means of a high point. This concise, tower-like structure is not only the face of the school, it also integrates itself into the axis of the playhouse and theater. The lower volume of the building subordinates itself to the direct block edge development, picks up the heights and the urban edges of the context and is the antipole to the vertically oriented dynamic high point. Two different plazas are created by the placement. On the one hand an extroverted, urban one, on the other hand within the building a non-public place for the students.

The university operations extend horizontally across the flat volume, while the public use area is arranged vertically. Teaching facilities include a library, workshops, and various rehearsal rooms. Studio stages and the large studio theater are located in the high point. Outside of the season, the tower is enlivened by the use of the studio stages. A roof terrace connects both usage units.

Since fast and short distances are essential in the theater area, both volumes are connected by a straight passageway. The individual uses are arranged in an s-shape to create a communicative level. The different room heights create gallery-like situations, some of which allow views into rehearsal rooms.

The structure is a reinforced concrete skeleton construction. Red colored, prefabricated concrete elements in vertical and horizontal direction create a certain depth in the facade and additionally emphasize the skeleton structure of the building. The monotonous facade fields are broken up and enlivened by various modules in an interplay. The privacy screen made of powder-coated expanded metal panels can be variably moved in the university area. Inside, the material world consists of gray exposed concrete, multicolored terrazzo tiles and wooden furniture. In addition, a variety of greenery is planned.

The design aims to mediate spatially between the two worlds, the urban space of Hanover and the elevated railroad system with its incoming and outgoing trains. Three volumes develop out of the connecting base. Like three actors on a stage, they appear within the new ensemble in front of Hannover's urban backdrop. The SHOW HOUSE: The large main hall of the studio theater can be loaded and played on from all sides, and productions can be performed in front of an audience of almost 200 people. The PLAYhouse: In a play of positive and negative space and the alternation of artificial light and daylight, the 5 studio stages of the Drama School meet in this building. The SCHULhaus: In this street-facing volume, the possibilities and also the limits of an open floor plan typology are to be exhausted; rehearsal and seminar rooms take the place of administration and management. The newly supplemented urban building block of the drama school meets the desire for increasing dialogue and exchange with the city, as well as close cooperation and possible guest appearances of other universities, ensembles, arrangements and artists within and outside Hanover. In addition to the backstage areas and the workshops, the spaces within the base are multicodable and can thus be flexibly played by the protagonists on a temporary basis – in mutual exchange, this creates a multifaceted game plan. The students learn the craft of acting through and with their building ensemble.

Awarded the Fachbereichspreis

The design proposes a building in a central location that brings the play back into the city center and provides appropriate space for teaching as well as performances and events.

The design deliberately moves slightly away from the street axis and opens up a small urban square that provides the campus with an address and students, visitors and passers-by with a place to meet and linger.

The basic idea of the design is the stacking of the stages in a tower with a vertical access revolving around it. Thus, logistically necessary stage walkways are transformed into qualitative recreational areas, which increase the flexibility of the playability and can be used flexibly. All stages are fed vertically via a freight elevator, and the location of the workshops and storage rooms in the base of the tower minimizes transport routes and makes them efficient. Larger events by external ensembles are also possible.

The tower represents higher education in front of the Hanoverian high-rise scene and gives the theater a public appearance again.

The location of the tower is deliberately placed in the northern part of the site. On the one hand, there are no residential buildings bordering the site, and on the other hand, the building thus takes up the increasing height development of the surroundings towards the city center. The very quiet area around the administrative buildings can be revitalized by marking and making visible the connection between Königstrasse and the main train station through the tower.

Apart from the tower, the building recedes in height and remains lower than the neighboring residential buildings. The first floor acts as a plinth that hugs the railroad line. Where the building steps away from the railroad, interior courtyards are created that provide intimate outdoor space and serve to provide light. On top of the plinth, in addition to the tower, sit transoms and hall that house the teaching and library spaces.

The cubature of the drama school is oriented to the surrounding buildings and fits harmoniously into the urban context. The main entrance faces Königstraße and forms a forecourt there.

The special feature of the building is reflected in the façade and the interior spatial configuration.

A deliberate decision was made not to divide the cubature into different functional areas in order to achieve the greatest possible mixing of the various user groups. Thus, the public studio stages are drawn into the interior of the building and everything that is usually hidden from the audience in the theater is carried to the façade in order to make the development of the play and its actors from rehearsal to final performance, and also the work and passion that goes with it, tangible from the outside and inside.

Visual references as well as vertical communication are consequently the central design ideas of the interior space configuration. In addition, widened access routes become multifunctional meeting areas and promote internal communication. Separated by curtains, they also serve as additional classrooms.

The school and backstage spaces play with the contrast of introversion and extraversion. Thus, there are spaces that turn their backs on the city and those that concisely open up and present themselves to the urban space to create an exciting external effect. The entire building sees itself as a large stage that gives passers-by and visitors a glimpse of the spectacle and invites them to linger.

For the greatest possible flexibility and adaptability, the building is constructed as a skeleton structure. A translucent double facade determines the outer appearance in the urban space and at the same time offers energetic and sound insulation advantages. In addition, despite the great depth of the building, pleasant natural lighting is made possible.