Knerer und Lang

High-Rise Student Housing - München - Germany

At first look, nothing has changed in the structural presence of the industrially manufactured building. Yet the former loggias were completely closed to create more space for the small apartments inside. The new skin reproduces the “image” of the old – with a new sharpness and precision.

Built in 1971 by Günther Eckert, the fifteen-to nineteen-story residential tower is part of the student residential complex Oberwiesenfeld, and once served - together with the neighboring bungalows - as housing for athletes of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The modular built tower is made from precast concrete elements. Its construction is based on an external support structure of loggias that are stacked and connected with reinforced concrete beams. The building’s interior is completely column-free and was also composed of industrially produced components - such as prefab bathroom with integrated sanitary fixtures made of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP).
The loggias were made of white fiberglass balustrade elements evoking machine components with their embossed patterns. In particular, the fire safety deficiencies necessitated an extensive renovation of the student tower - the external support structure created numerous thermal bridges. At just under fifteen square meters, the 801 apartments were too small by today’s standards, while the loggias - especially those in the upper floors - were exposed to the elements, infested with pigeons, and hardly useable. Commissioned by Munich Student Union, knerer und lang Architekten carried out a radical modernization of the building, reinterpreting both its interior and exterior structure. The tower was given a completely new envelope, constructed in front of the loggias. While nothing can be seen of the original today, the building seems more rejuvenated than altered. The architects did not replicate or reconstruct the original building, but instead developed a new concept based on the logic of the original design.
The balconies were added to the apartments as additional living space. The architects gutted the interior, and refilled it according to the original grid, once again using prefabricated bathroom elements. The new furnishings reflect the industrial and practical aesthetics of the original building at the time of its construction. The “flattening” of the façade that resulted from the elimination of the loggias was offset by a new façade made of lightweight concrete frame elements.
Their slight spatial distortion gives the impression of greater depth.
The basic elements of the original façade are again present: the stacked concrete elements with the white plastic “machine-embossed” balustrades, along with recessed black window elements. Only at second glance is the redesign by knerer und lang Architekten apparent as such. Above all, it maintains the integrity of the original’s long-range effect, and thus maintains the Olympic Village ensemble.





Architecture as Resource / Imprint