Client: Technical University of Munich
Location: Münich, Germany
Coordinates: 48.135157, 11.559929
Climate: Continental, Temperate
Materials: Concrete, Wood
Scale: 2.751 ㎡ Medium
Types: Education, Refurbishment, Research center
Through our virtual contact, the site became factious. The dichotomous process of perspectively and perceptionally getting known to someone differs with every new encounter. By combination of the two an imminence appears which has previously been incompatible. Niels Bohr applied this obduction to his theory of the complementary. In the primal instinct to understand light, he combined Heisenberg’s theory of particles with Einstein’s theory of waves.
To be able to comprehend the fascination of light, one has to consider the possibility of both theories existing at the same time without one being able to perceive both simultaneously.
Since western philosophy has come to its constant state of self-doubt in Modernity, one of its greatest achievements was the construct of Das Andere, the Other, i.e. to find the third way when confronted with incongruency. This Other, which C.G. Jung described as the transformation following the meeting of two personalities, allows for a critical development of thoughts freed from the friction of retroactive concepts; in itself, one could imagine it like a vacuum.
Even if significantly earlier and more advanced in its initial coherence, it is helpful to connect Jung’s allegory to LaoTse, the founder of Taoism, who described this vacuum as ‘all-potent because it is all-containing.’ To us, the term Imaginary Reality inherits the reflection of the omnipotential.
More than ever, the consequences of our possible future demand a clear consciousness of our presence. Sustainability is not only an additional, but fundamental aspect to understand our responsibility in the anthropocene. All actions which are now taken carry the obligation of forming futuractive environments. Every act in three dimensions is political; as spatial planners we therefore share a special responsibility towards the resources of our planet and its inhabitants alike.
Besides the physical consequences, the 21st century is coined by the disproportional rise of a transcendent power. Cambridge Analytica manipulating Donald Trump’s election in 2015, High-Frequency-Trading, the oligopoly of Big Tech and numerous financial crises caused by algorithms have brought the matter of data surveillance to public attention. Yet, Europe’s facilities to intensively work or study in these fields have been rather limited so far. E.g. from personal experience, a young start-up in Munich seeking for affordable data storage does not have any other possibilities than buying services from Amazon Web Services despite knowing about the terrifying dominance of such companies on the global flux of information. Researchers who try to evade these constraints are often bound to instutitions from North America with their close reciprocal ties to the industry.
Therefore, an awareness of increasing economical dependance in fast-growing regions like Munich has proven to be mandatory in the past years. Among others, corporations from tertiary-sector-economy have chosen to relocate their European headquarters to the city, bringing several thousand highly paid workers with them. Since the first wave of gentrification after the war has passed already, the hybrid streets and public infrastructure attract new habitants from classes of higher income and accelerate housing prices.
Naturally, researchers from TUM, LMU and other internationally oriented universities of Munich have been affected from these conditions for years. Despite and because of being one of the driving factors for attracting foreign tech companies, an increasing number of young professionals working in the fields are forced to either start working at one of the Big Tech companies or to ultimately leave.Due to its proximity to the main station, our site is located within an area underlying exact changes.
Amidst the faculties of medicine and physiology, the former laboratory building of the LMU is meant to be torn down due to costly renovation works. The plot is thereby becoming extremely attractive whilst unwillingly increasing its value, which complicates planning for the administration and hinders more sustainable alternatives to demolition. When thinking of grey energy, historical value, political deficiencies and the economic tension shaping the area in the next decades, how can we transform the dichotomy of such circumstances into another future?
These preconditions, paired with the perception of our phenomenological analyses of distance and curiosity, have led to a transformation of existing contrasts into an Imaginary Reality. When approaching the site, one instantly perceives the solitary aura our building transmits. As strolling through its surroundings, the layering of different qualities ascribe an endocentric behaviour: it appears to be inaccessible, yet a centre of gravitational pull. The metaphora of a Nucleus unveils.
Prospective uses would thus have to reflect these traits within aforementioned conditions. In our case, the Nucleus becomes a Data and Research Centre. On the lower floors, the former laboratory’s infrastructure is adapted to facilitate server hosting and technical supply. As before, the adjacent workshop is connected to the building via underground, whereas it is now converted to offer hardware-/high tech-facilities. On the upper floors, the administration floor and work spaces for the inhabitants are followed by the researchers’ and students’ living above.
To minimise the emission of grey energy, most of the existing supporting structure was left intact. Small interventions were done concerning various issues: solving thermal bridges on the facade and basement, noise pollution throughout the building and sufficient circulation. All additions were made using materials from whole-cycle systems to the greatest possible extent, such as different sorts of wood, impregnated cotton, cork and degradable insulation. The building’s uses act in reciprocal feeds. The thermal energy produced by the servers can be converted to provide heating and hot water for the housing units and abundant energy can be fed into the supply system of the surrounding houses. All conversions are considered to be re-used or dismantled to adapt to other uses.
In the end, the transformation which followed the meeting of the phenomenon and preconditions appreciates the complexity of the next decades. We can understand its aesthetic value by concentrating on tactility, demeanour and sustainability. Reality, as so far, will remain a fragile concept in the threshold of existing and imaginable.