Being founded in 1969, Bielefeld University is relatively young. Nevertheless, it is a distinctive feature of the city of Bielefeld. Due to its impressive constructive volume also architecturally speaking. The zeitgeist of the time is expressed by the university building's conceptual design and architectural style. A young architectural group from Berlin had won the architectural competition in 1969 and was building the University in the 70s. Their former intentions are still up-to-date. In the following decades the University has been extended and partially renovated whilst its original character was maintained.
To someone who never entered it before the monstrous concrete building with its massive sideward elements may look like an inapproachable fortress. However, this impression is misleading. Entrances are allocated all around the building which can be accessed from all sides. The main entrance is marked by a red bridge that connects the tram line 4 and the parking zones with the building. The tram was included in the design from the very beginning. But the urban development competition for the realization was not advertised until 1998. The tram stop "Universität" and the distinctive red bridge were inaugurated in 2001.
The outlook is more open when one is inside of the building. All elements are easily accessible from the 240 meters long hall that is flushed with daylight by the means of glass roofs. In 1979, the hall was presented with the architectural award of the Bund Deutscher Architekten [Association of German Architects] of North Rhine-Westphalia in the category "Social Communication". It presents the central forum for communication, the heart of the University. Here, level zero provides a central meeting point, access to several lecture halls, a row of shops, gastronomy, benches, a post office. The certificate of the BDA praises the clear zoning and linear communication area as a thoroughfare. It had been realized in an adequate and generous way. However, the cool industrial facility architecture's role is restricted to a space frame which's unobtrusiveness is its essential constructional characteristic. Dimension, materials and details are highly complementing.
In the years 2005 to 2007 special attention was paid to the hall's building culture. The "Project Group Building Culture" was specially formed for this purpose as a division of the Centre for Aesthetics. It was concerned with the hall's modernization and developed the open and artistic ambience of today. This ambience is provided by new benches on the hall level and modern workspaces on the gallery. Furthermore, a green area was installed in the form of two black olive trees. Sixteen large-sized black-and-white photographs by Veit Mette make up the artistic element. Finally, the ambience profits from the hall's spaciousness. Before all of this was done, both of the gallery-cafés had been built-in and the university hall had become smoke-free. In 2009 the opening of the new "Infopunkt" as a central contact point of the Studierendensekretariat [Student Office] in the university hall followed. It provides a comprehensive service.
The impressively logical spatial pattern can be perceived from the university hall. The single elements are marked with the letters of the alphabet. The Centre for Aesthetics, for example, is in room number S3-115. It can be easily found in tower S, third floor, room number 115. All 100er numbers are arranged on the roll axes of the building, all 200er numbers on the pitch axes. All floors have ribbon glazing, nearly all of the rooms, apart from lecture halls, are provided with generous daylight.
The preferred building materials are concrete, glass and metal. Like the architecture critique Gerhard Ullmann pointed out in the Deutsche Bauzeitung 1978 they "are used by architectures with cool rationality and a great sense for their aesthetic effect". Nevertheless, the building is "a study factory from the outside for sure, that does not deny its starting conditions and its constructional requirements in any way". (Deutsche Bauzeitung, 1978, Issue 3, pp. 38-43; translated from German by Swetlana Fast).