The Marsilius Arcades
A New Showcase of Heidelberg University
Since 2016 the Marsilius-Kolleg has been able to call the newly built Marsilius Arcades located on the Im Neuenheimer Feld Campus its new domicile. Since its founding in 2008, the baroque mansion Haus Buhl in the old town of Heidelberg just below the castle had housed it. In April 2016 he Marsilius Kolleg moved into its new domicile in the north tower of the Marsilius Arcades, a tripartite building complex to which the Kolleg lent its name. With a tour by boat on the Neckar River the Marsilius Kolleg both literally symbolically set out for new shores. The new premises provide whole new possibilities for the Marsilius Kolleg, which is becoming increasingly a mayor engine to advance the interdisciplinarity of the entire university, as Thomas Rausch, Molecular Biologist and one of the two current directors of the Kolleg, put it. “Today we are the public showcase of the university. Everyone can have a look inside, and we are keen to become more visible”, said the Medievalist Bernd Schneidmüller, co-director of the Kolleg, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the complex.
The Construction Process
Various concepts of utilization for the university-owned property at the entrance to the Im Neuenheimer Feld Campus had been discarded from different sides. The idea for the construction of the Marsilius Arcades was suggested by the Unterländer Studienfonds, a foundation affiliated with Heidelberg University, which in 2007 put a Europe-wide combined architectural and investor competition to tender. The concept submitted by project developer and investor Andreas Epple in partnership with the architects “hübner + erhard und partner” (today “Element A”) won the competition. Construction began in October 2013 and as early as 2015 the Marsilius Arcades were completed. In the course of the ambitious project, 20,000 square meters of room for scientific work, clinical research and on-campus housing were created.
A New Landmark
The Marsilius Arcades, a tripartite ensemble of buildings on the southern side of the Im Neuenheimer Feld Campus neighboring the surgical clinic lies in close proximity to the Neckar River. The ten-storied north and south towers of the complex stand on podium zones and are connected by two-storied arcades. At the same time the Arcades extend to the north-south axis of the Im Neuenheimer Feld Campus towards the Neckar River. The podium zones provide large premises suitable for conferences and other large-scale events. In addition, a cafeteria and an ecumenical center for on-campus pastoral work are located there. The podium zones feature a slate textured facing that contrasts with the bright façade of the towers. The 13-storied west tower on the other hand features a darker aluminum facing. The three towers share a large central courtyard inviting you to linger. Whereas the west and south tower predominantly house office facilities of the University Clinic and the faculty of medicine and staff apartments for the clinic, the Marsilius-Kolleg is located in the podium zone of the north tower. Moreover the upper stories of the north tower house the Center for Information and Medical Technology (ZIM) of the University Clinic as well as additional apartments for students and visiting scientists.
Art in Architecture
In the course of the project the “Marsilius Arcades Art Competition” was put out to tender. Seven master students of the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts had the opportunity to submit their projects for presenting art in the complex. The competition was themed “„HumanNature –NatureHuman“. The eleven-member jury honored two works submitted by the Ludwigsburg based artist Nina Bergold with the first prize. Her works “Circulation” and “die Suchende” (“the Searching Lady”) can be visited in the foyers of the west and north towers. “Circulation” in the west tower is inseparably intertwined with the architecture of the stairways in the Arcades, as Henry Keazor, Professor for Modern and Contemporary Art at Heidelberg University put it. Not only does the art work, which consists of a series of dynamic lines in orange and blue, overlay the end walls of the arcades but the linear composition also runs over the pillars supporting the gallery of the foyer. While perambulating the foyer the beholder will experience the artwork presenting itself in an ever-changing manner. „Die Suchende“, Miss Bergold’s work in the foyer of the Marsilius Kolleg, is invigorated by the tension between abstraction and the associations it provokes; it is only at second glance that a human figure seems to be taking shape amidst the lines, only to dissolve again into a tangle. The interdisciplinary approach employed at the Kolleg entails looking at things in novel ways and creating room for new insights about the world and ourselves trough scientific collaboration of different disciplines at the Kolleg. With “die Suchende” Nina Bergold is asking questions to which science has not been able to find definitive answers yet. “What do we actually see, when we and our perception are only part of what we want to see? Is such a way of seeing feasible at all or will we always be confined to mere approximation?” “Die Suchende” too, states the artist, tries to truly understand things, to ‘arrive at complete insights’.”
HumanNature –NatureHuman. Marsilius-Arkaden Kunstprojekt, hg. von der Epple Projekt GmbH, Heidelberg, 2016, S. 19-33, 52-53.
Timo Teufert: Feierliche Eröffnung der Marsilius-Arkaden im Neuenheimer Feld, erschienen in der RNZ vom 8.4. 2016, https://www.rnz.de/nachrichten/heidelberg_artikel,-Heidelberg-Feierliche-Eroeffnung-der-Marsilius-Arkaden-im-Neuenheimer-Feld-_arid,182951.html