In Europe’s second largest baroque castle schneider+schumacher have created a modern study and conference center for Mannheim Business School. A decommissioned boiler room and its associated coal cellar dating from the 1950s have been transformed into landscape art at Mannheim’s palace. “Dug into the garden, the new complex and the historic building together form a remarkable new entity, yet in a stylistic idiom that is unequivocally 21st century, proving that the future is firmly rooted in the past”, claims Michael Schumacher who, together with Till Schneider, owns schneider+schumacher.
At the end of 2013, the state of Baden-Württemberg tendered a negotiation procedure for the construction project and in January 2014 schneider+schumacher was awarded the contract. The Mannheim and Heidelberg Office of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Assets and Construction Management Department acted as clients.
On an area totalling 1700m², a modern and bright campus has emerged with a generous forum, two lecture rooms, a conference room, and ten spaces for group work. On entering the new building, one overlooks the entire lecture room complex, with views extending to the garden – there is nothing reminiscent of a coal cellar here. A wide glass frontage opens up the study and conference center to the palace garden, which dips down at this point like an ancient Greek theatre, offering students a green landscaped external space that extends over the roof of the building.
The doors and carpeting, right through to the desks and chairs are all coloured red – in contrast, and as a complementary colour to the green of the castle garden. The ceiling above the rows of seating in each lecture theatre is gently vaulted. With the aid of indirect lighting the space appears heightened, carrying on a tradition established by those who originally built the palace, who interpreted ceilings as representing an endless heaven and painted them accordingly. Panes of glass provide acoustic separation between individual spaces and are arranged so that they generate multiple reflections, making the space appear larger and more complex than its simple geometric form would suggest. This mirroring effect, together with the reflections of the green lawn and red lecture theatres gives rise to a multi-facetted play of light.