Students' House Philosophenweg
Also known as: Mensa Philosophenweg
In the 1920s, the city of Jena was involved in a lively exchange with the Bauhaus in Weimar and became home to numerous extraordinary buildings. One of them is the Students’ House on Philosophenweg. Opened in 1930, the Students’ House was developed in the context of the “Active Building Studio” run by Otto Bartning and Ernst Neufert at the Bauhochschule Weimar, a practiceoriented pedagogical concept that involved students at every stage.
Otto Bartning was at that time already an important source of ideas for the Bauhaus program. Director of the Bauhaus School in Weimar in 1926, the Bauhaus’s successor institution, he appointed the former Bauhaus student Ernst Neufert to a professorship for planning. In 1927, Bartning and Neufert were jointly commissioned by the Jena Association for Student Assistance to build a students’ center.
The cube-shaped, reinforced-concrete structure with a red brick façade, built in 1929–30, borders onto Philosophenweg from one side and onto a park on the other. The building skillfully employs a split design to integrate it into the landscape of the sloping surroundings in a space-saving manner. Large windows ensure light even on the ground floor while the ribbon windows on the second and third floors, whose white frames stand out from the red bricks, become increasingly narrower.
On the inside, the elongated, flat-roofed structure has been planned to meet the needs of a student house. Featuring a large kitchen as well as common and dining rooms, the cafeteria extends across the entire ground floor. Apartments for employees and administrative personnel were located on the first floor while the second floor was taken up by an event hall with gallery and stage.
Ernst Neufert, author of the standard architectural reference work “Bauentwurfslehre” (1936), was not only interested in functionality and proportions but also in an economy of motion sequences and working procedures. This is reflected in the short paths and the clever distribution of space in the Philosophenweg Students’ House. The building underwent a thorough restoration between 1990 and 1994 and is still used today as a cafeteria by the Thuringia Student Services in Jena. [KM/HY]
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