10.05.2015 Insa Thiel

Clever addition: Temporary seminar building for RWTH Aachen

Photograph: Jörg Hempel

Above all, the SemiTEMPs had to be built as quickly as possible. After the failed preliminary planning for the institute’s parking lot, more room for students was required because of the two-year programs. Hahn Helten + Assoziierte rolled up their sleeves and rapidly came up with plans for eight seminar rooms. However, the container construction lacks neither quality nor workmanship. Architect: Hahn Helten + Assoziierte, Aachen
Location: parking space of museum »Reiffmuseum«, Schinkelstraße 15, 52062 Aachen, Germany
The temporary building is meant to serve for the next five years. Its predetermined location among the various faculties and seminar buildings means that it is not only accessible to all students, but also offers bright, comfortable learning spaces. It consists of individual modules which were fitted with prefabricated exterior walls in the form of system panels, interior doors, access doors and plastic window panes during the assembly phase. The exterior wall insulation and the perforated corrugated sheets serving both as façade cladding and as a privacy screen were added in situ.
The SemiTEMPs are joined via the main entrance on the northeast side, where all necessary rooms such as toilets, storage, technical rooms, small offices and a kitchenette are located. Altogether, eight seminar rooms form the rear side of the temporary building with a view of greenery. A long corridor is the mirror axis that divides the two functional areas. Furthermore, every seminar room has its own emergency exit. Generous windows alternate with opaque façade elements that house ventilation devices and electrical cables. Perforated sheeting provide excellent ventilation for the decentralized devices. While the perforated corrugated sheets cling to the seminar building, the southwest side of the seminar rooms has been left open and offers a view of the exterior space.
With these 28 prefab modules and precise planning, the architects have succeeded in creating a comfortable, practical structure. In eight months of planning and only twelve weeks’ building time, they put up a building that now offers 250 students room for seminars and projects. In the lecture-free period, the building is used as a learning space open to all. As closed-off as possible and planned with mechanical ventilation because of the nearby railway tracks, the seminar building corresponds to modern standards without sacrificing ambience. The metallic shell fits cosily beside the steel building next door and the silvery gravel of the parking lot. The elevated entrance juts out like an open drawer, inviting visitors to go in. 

Project data

Net floor area:
932 m²
Gross floor area: 1,046 m²
Gross volume: 4,186 m²
Start of planning: August, 2013
Start of construction: January, 2014
Completion: April, 2014
Costs: Euro 2.5 million
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