The Britta and Ulrich Findeisen Foundation for Art and Architecture acquired the CUBITY from the Deutsche Fertighaus Holding (DFH Group), which was developed in 2014 by Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M. Arch. Anett-Maud Joppien, Department of Design and Building Technology, and Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M. Sc. Econ. Manfred Hegger († 2016), Department of Design and Energy Efficient Construction at TU Darmstadt for the Solar Decathlon Europe in Versailles. The building, which will be used as LivingLAB – Student Living by Nassauischen Heimstätte Wohnstadt in Frankfurt am Main until the fall of 2021, will find a new location in the municipality of Merzenich on the centrally located Poolplatz in Merzenich from the first quarter of 2022 and will be given a new purpose as a CUBITY Atelier House.

In the CUBITY Atelier House, people from all over the world will temporarily research and live in the future, focusing on architecture, urban planning, nature and landscape development as part of the structural change at the Hambach open-cast mine.

Ansprache von Dipl.-Ing. Markus Schmale, Architekt BDA

Speech by Dipl.-Ing. Markus Schmale, architect BDA, at the handover of the building application at the Merzenich site

On 23.12.2021, the official handover of the building application at the new site in Merzenich took place by the Chairman of the Foundation, Dipl.-Ing. Architect BDA Markus Schmale. “With the prospect of preserving the hereditary forest and the Hambach Forest, the municipality of Merzenich plays a special role in structural development compared to the entire Rhenish district. With the CUBITY Atelier House, our foundation offers a pioneering location for knowledge transformation,” explains Markus Schmale.

A futuristic building as an inspiration for future projects

The footprint of the external volume is 16 x 16 meters; a translucent facade made of polycarbonate panels encloses the hall. The four facades are all treated identically, transparent glazing emphasizes the corners and allows views from the inside. Inside, too, the rooms are organized and zoned without being assigned to a specific compass direction, so that CUBITY can react flexibly to the respective location and be aligned accordingly. Within the large volume, there are twelve set living cubes detached from the facade. The cubes are stacked in pairs and each have a floor area of around 9.5 square meters. Each cube is equipped with a prefabricated sanitary unit and built-in furniture. This made it possible to create optimized private cells for a total of twelve people.

The space is arranged along the facade, creating a square in the middle – the so-called market square. It serves as a freely usable area, a central meeting point and opens up a wide range of possibilities for activities. The space between the facade and the residential cubes opens up semi-private intermediate zones and smaller communal areas such as the kitchen, a lounge on the upper floor and the adjoining terrace deck.

The upper residential cubes are accessed from the market square via single-flight staircases. As on the first floor, the entrances to the residential cubes on the gallery on the upper floor are oriented towards the facade, creating a semi-private front zone shielded from the central area. In addition, the lounge is located in a corner of the gallery as a semi-public area.

From an energy perspective, the 256 square meters of net room area in the hall also stand in contrast to the occupied cells. In the cubes, each resident can control the temperature according to their individual preferences, while the hall area, as a weather-protected outdoor space, can only be heated or cooled in certain areas. The tension between the heated and spatially optimized living cubes and the spacious communal areas, which are not conditioned throughout, reflects the concept’s idea of sufficiency.

Project partners of the Britta and Ulrich Findeisen Foundation for Art and Architecture

The planning and implementation is being carried out in close cooperation with the Dueren-based planning company H & K, the architectural firm Schmale Architects from Grevenbroich-Hemmerden and the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt, the original builder Deutsche Fertighaus Holding AG (DFH) from Simmern and the current user Nassauischen Heimstätte Wohnstadt from Frankfurt am Main. “We are delighted that, as a local company, we were able to carry out the preliminary planning, approval and implementation of this extraordinary project,” says M.A. Architect AKNW Alexander Keller from H & K Planungsgesellschaft mbH.

The Findeisen Foundation’s CUBITY project is supported and funded by the municipality of Merzenich, the Ministry of Regional Identity, Communities and Local Government, Building and Gender Equality of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the landowner RWE Power AG, Cologne, which is making the land available to the foundation on a leasehold basis. The Foundation for Art and Building Culture is also in talks with the Sparkasse Dueren Foundation regarding a “sustainable projects.”

The scientific monitoring of the relocation and future operation of the CUBITY Atelier House of the Britta and Ulrich Findeisen Foundation for Art and Architecture is being carried out by the Department of Architecture at TU Darmstadt, Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M. Arch. Anett-Maud Joppien and Dipl.-Ing. Architect Benja Trautmann, who has been awarded a research contract by the foundation. This also includes the development of a mobility hub at the CUBITY site, where various transportation services, such as electromobility, public transport, rental and cargo bikes with bicycle charging stations, etc., are linked together under one roof.

The CUBITY Atelier House is of particular importance to the municipality of Merzenich. In order to ensure the open space planning and urban development quality of this area, the municipality of Merzenich decided to hold a competition for urban planners and landscape architects in 2020 in accordance with RPW 2013. The basis for the planning is the winning design by landscape architects Lill + Sparla, Cologne and Stefan Schmitz Architect and Urban Planner, Cologne. For a long time, Poolplatz was a popular village square and meeting place – first due to the local funfair and later due to the “zum Boss” event hall. “By creating this extraordinary building for the education, teaching and research of future topics of urban and landscape planning as well as regional plan development in the context of structural change in the Rhenish district for young people and those involved in the project, we in Merzenich are winning several times over,” emphasizes Mayor Georg Gelhausen.

At CUBITY, people from all over the world will temporarily research and live in the Hambach open-cast mine, focusing on architecture, urban planning, nature and landscape development in the context of structural change. Among other things, the topics of Hambach open-cast mine, Hambach Forest and the transformation of Alt-Morschenich into a “place of the future” can be examined in more detail here.