Universität und Stadt : bauliche Genese von Universitätstypen und deren Bedeutung im Stadtraum

  • University and city : structural genesis of university typologies and their relevance in urban spaces

Kruschwitz, Claudia; Wachten, Kunibert (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2011)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2011


Based on the current structural and spatial transformations of especially European universities, the paper studies the various dimensions of the relationship between university and city in a predominantly qualitative urban research in texts and pictures in order to define the relevance of university sites for the townscape. As a result, starting points for planning activities are given. In a first investigation the universities’ development of building typologies and programmatic structure is being followed in their communal and urban environment, whereas the second investigation presents the current situation in respect to the institutions’ symbolic significance and internal activities by exploring different types of urban locations and spatial structures. Both rely on selected examples, which are uniformly presented. Starting with the prototypes of college and assembly hall, the genesis shows the development of representative ‘university palaces’, ensembles, and campuses paralleling the institution’s integration into the state apparatus. While the ‘university palaces’ resemble other representative buildings of the time, the campus can be regarded as an independent spatial form. Campuses can be found in the following constellations: in compact composition (central, dominant buildings with surrounding open spaces; main road), spacious composition (central, dominant open space with spaciously arranged surrounding buildings; ring road), and laminar composition (mixed areas of buildings and open spaces; road grid). Accordingly, three types of urban settings can be defined: the seldom found fragmented, integrated-urban setting in mostly inner-city locations, the generally dominating, distinguishable affiliated-urban setting in inner-city or suburban locations, and the self-sufficient setting in mostly rural locations, which was especially employed in the 20th century. Covering the spectrum of mentioned types, the second investigation studies functionally and spatially concise elements as well as sites of movement, sojourn and representation at four universities: at the RWTH Aachen University (D), at the Universitet Århus (DK), at the UNAM in Mexico City (MEX), and at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (UK). As a result, today’s university is more closely connected to the city as before by means of its programmatic structure (offers to diverse population groups), by urban and regional planning (joint or complementary building projects and marketing), although the institutions’ area sizes and building typologies bring forward a general introversion. Therefore, it is essential to counteract the latter by a good integration into the urban traffic system and into the surrounding townscape. The investigations show, that universities’ public spaces are strongly demanded for activities of sojourn and representation by internal users. Attractively designed spots, functional and spatial hierarchies as well as a functional heterogeneity (central and teaching/research facilities, catering and leisure facilities) increase activities of sojourn while considering the specifics of the university lifestyle of offering both spots of discourse and spots of seclusion. The institution’s representation relies on spots of collective events and on symbolic buildings and elements. Among the symbols are the per se representative historic main buildings, the historic central buildings along with the main open space of campuses and selected modern central buildings. Yet, the latter require a more striking appearance to become a unique solitary structure than the classical main buildings. Especially extra-curricular events taking place in central university spots as well as symbolic buildings play a role for townsfolk and therefore have the potential to strengthen the connection between university and city. Provided this partnership should be intensified a need for planning action arises particularly in the boundary areas of university sites: by an orchestration of symbolic buildings and by a stimulation of university’s and city’s public spaces along intersections by means of inviting buildings/façades, catering and leisure facilities as well as by attractive spots of sojourn. As a result, the paper shows that in addition to partnerships with the economy especially building and spatial typologies have the potential to sharpen a university’s profile and to contribute to the identification of its members and townsfolk with the institution.


  • Chair of Urban Design and Institute for Urban Design and European Urbanism [212410]