Vocational collage by the U, Dortmund

Modern school complex at the foot of the Dortmund landmark

The giant “U”, which towers over Dortmund on the building of the former union brewery, represents the Ruhr city like no other symbol. At its foot, one of Germany’s largest and most cutting-edge school complexes in has been built, harmoniously and yet distinctively blending into the architectural landscape of the city, which combines the old with the new. Its striking architectural features are illuminated by BEGA luminaires.

Only a stone’s throw from the central railway station, a new quarter is flourishing in Dortmund’s city centre: the U-quarter. In this rapidly developing location, characteristic of the city and the region, a striking new campus was built in a construction time of three years, designed by the architectural firm Gerber, in 2016. The new building complex, which cost around 80 million euros, connects the city centre to the western inner city and the Robert Bosch and Robert Schumann vocational colleges on an area of 20,000 square metres. Its connecting role is highlighted by BEGA surface washers as a major design element: installed on the red brick facade, they cast their light towards ground level from a height of ten metres, illuminating the central, elongated courtyard between the formerly separate buildings. Now, the buildings are connected by a shared ground floor with a common assembly hall. Otherwise, the two buildings of different heights, in an L-shape and rectangular shape respectively, remain discrete entities. The BEGA surface washers with asymmetrical light distribution create a bright, inviting atmosphere and spatial depth in the courtyard. The vibrant, open space with plenty of benches and trees serves as a place for more than 6000 students and 250 teachers to chat and hang out – always with an unspoiled view of the omnipresent U.

Another dedicated hangout location are the steps on the roof of the shared assembly hall, which resemble an open-air stand. They don’t lead anywhere – they end halfway up to the sky. BEGA recessed wall luminaires, which are used around the world to accentuate architectural details, are built into the walls flanking the sides of the steps. The luminaires cast their unshielded light along the walkways on either side, lighting the way to the top. At the same time, they highlight the architecture and the cosy atmosphere of the entire structural element with their soft, pleasant light.

Even at night, when there are no lessons, BEGA illumination fulfils an important function across the entire building complex: it provides safety in Dortmund’s U-quarter near the railway station, and emits an inviting glow for visitors after dark.

Architect Prof. Eckhard Gerber/Gerber Architekten GmbH, Dortmund Client Projekt DoU Baufeld Nord GmbH & Co. KG