A Typology of Research Buildings

Construction for the needs of teaching and research serves two basic human needs: the desire for new insights and the creation of a place where people have a sense of belonging. Today, architecture has to cover a wide range of research activities and provide many different building types, from laboratories, libraries and auditoriums to dining halls and specialized spaces for all kinds of disciplines. What we regard as modern concepts, such as flexibility, adaptability and autonomy, can also be found in the forerunners of the European university like the “universitas magistrorum et scholarium” in Bologna and Paris around 1200. In contrast to the universities, the early colleges were secured through institutional links. The most important example is the Collegio di Spagna in Bologna, dating from 1367. For the first time in a collaboration between client and architect, an exclusive, ­introverted structure was created enclosed within walls – not unlike a monastery. The various activities were laid out around a central courtyard that served as a space for communication. The University of Nuremberg in Altdorf (1583) is an example of this typological development. The appearance of the university as one knows it today began to manifest itself after 1550 in a merging of university and college types. In the 17th and 18th centuries, palace-like scientific structures document the increasing power of the people – secular and ecclesiastical – who supported such institutions and who expected Baroque grandeur.
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