Montanuni Leoben Study Center / Franz&Sue

Text description provided by the architects. 4000 students from all over the world receive their education in the city center of Leoben, the second-largest city in the province of Styria. Montanuniversität Leoben (University of Leoben) is one of the international frontrunners in its field of research and education. In the future, a state-of-the-art university campus will be built on one of the last spatial reserves in the inner-city area, and as of now, the new study center marks the first building block in this project. Embedded in the historical Gründerzeit fabric in an attractive location near the Mur River, an iconic building has risen, blending in naturally with its surroundings.

Montanuni Leoben Study Center / Franz&Sue - Exterior Photography, Windows, Facade

A modern university campus is not only defined by its buildings but also by attractive open spaces. The ground floor of the study center forms an inviting central square with its warm, earth-red surface – both inside and outside. The entrances are recessed on all sides, offering effective protection from the weather for the students.

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Montanuni Leoben Study Center / Franz&Sue - Interior Photography

From the outside, the building initially appears quite simple. Four stories, four bands of windows, everything legible. The façade bands are layered in different thicknesses and nuances of color. A tribute to mining and sedimentation of rocks. Unpretentious, down-to-earth, high quality: The design of the new study center establishes a harmonious dialogue with the existing Gründerzeit building and forms a coherent ensemble.

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Upon entering the campus, one can already tell from the ground floor that the building’s interior functions quite differently than a normal building. The three lecture halls for approximately 1000 students and the main staircase are scattered inside the structure like seashells. The open study areas flow in and around the area between them. This creates a variety of spatial situations: enclosed squares, spacious areas with a view of the greenery, and small group rooms that can be partitioned off.

Montanuni Leoben Study Center / Franz&Sue - Interior Photography, Living Room, Sofa, Windows
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Because these “in-between zones” are just as important to the new university building as the concise functional spatial program. After all, cutting-edge contemporary research and education depend on such open spaces for encounters and presentation, concentration, learning, and recreation. The open design stimulates communication between teachers and students and makes it possible to switch between different learning situations.

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The foyer of the study center is oriented both towards the forecourt and the Mur River, offering a spacious entrance where various events can take place. Two generous air spaces provide integrated transparency and communication across floors. Trapezoidal sheets are employed as a recurring element that draws the horizontal articulation of the façade to the inside and provides the necessary acoustic insulation. All three lecture halls are accessible via entrances on two levels each. Their striking geometry lends the building’s interior its unmistakable character. The lecture halls are glazed into the study areas, so you can always see what is happening in the building. Inside, they provide a warm and bright learning atmosphere.

Montanuni Leoben Study Center / Franz&Sue - Interior Photography, Stairs

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