New UNI/PH building on Frohburgstrasse
An initial plan was drawn up for the construction of a university complex at Kasernenplatz in the form of a slightly pivoted cube. In 2004, the plan was stopped for legal reasons before its implementation could kick off, but this turned out to be a double blessing. On the one hand, the young university was growing faster than anticipated and the original plan would have quickly been outgrown, and, on the other, the postal services building in the Lucerne city centre became available for redevelopment because SwissPost relocated its sorting facility to the canton of Solothurn. This site is extremely well positioned in the centre of town, close to the railway station and opposite KKL Luzern, the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre.
As a result, a contemporary multi-functional education campus was created combining inspired architectural design and the striking facade. The campus houses the University of Lucerne and a branch library of the Zentral- und Hochschulbibliothek as well as a unit of the Lucerne college of education (Pädagogische Hochschule Luzern). The college of education is currently spread over several sites in the city but a new campus for the college in Ennethorw is planned for completion in 2029.
You can find out more about this in the audio contribution or in the complete text "New UNI/PH building on Frohburgstrasse".
It took a good ten years before the University of Lucerne could move to its present location and start operations there in the autumn semester of 2011. Today, the striking building, the northern facade in front of which you are now standing, is an integral part of the cityscape. Hardly any other university in Switzerland is as centrally located. Yet, it almost turned out quite differently. Only by a whisker, did the University avoid becoming an oversized cube shape building at Kasernenplatz, between the Reuss river and the busy motorway exit. Originally, the University was supposed to lend that part of the city a further urbanistic character. But that project, which was selected by a jury in 2003, met with vehement rejection from the local public. The location was controversial and it became apparent that the building would be too small for the increasing number of students. The Administrative Court also ratified a complaint filed by a jury member on the grounds of bias. The die was cast and there was a perfect storm. In 2004, after three years of planning, we were back at the beginning.
However, the crisis presented a unique opportunity that actually turned out to be a stroke of luck. Increasing student numbers were posing problems with space for the University of Teacher Education of Central Switzerland, now the PH Lucerne, and for the Central and University Library. These institutions signalled that they would be interested in moving in, together with the University under a common roof. At the same time, Lucerne's 20-year-old postal distribution centre at the railway station would become available, because operations were being relocated to Härkingen in the canton of Solothurn. The new circumstances were perfect. A building with a flexibly expandable structure, sufficient space for all needs, and at an affordable price was available in the city centre. The vision of a multifunctional educational building became concrete with the announcement of a competition, which was won by the Zurich architectural firm Enzmann und Fischer. In autumn 2006, over 80 per cent of Lucerne's electorate also gave a clear ‘yes’ to the project design near the railway station. The conversion already began in December 2007.
The UNI and University of Teacher Education building was ready in the summer of 2011. Architecturally, it complements the station and, with its bright and strongly modulated shell, emerges from the shadows of the adjoining culture and congress centre, the KKL. The ZHB library occupies the first floor, while the University of Teacher Education is on the second. The third and fourth floors belong to the University. The large lecture halls and the cafeteria are located on the ground floor and the basement. By accommodating, in this one new building, divisions that had been spread throughout 20 locations across the city, the employees mastered a logistical challenge. The building was finally officially opened on 1st September 2011. It offers a surface area of about seven football pitches and impresses with innovative lighting and an identity-forming colour concept.
And so it has come to pass that this building, housing these complementary educational institutions, is also still the place from where postal mail is dispatched. In addition to lectures, conferences, congresses and public events also take place here. The building pulsates from every nook and cranny. People from different disciplines and professions meet on the unique double flight of stairs. Innovative cooperation projects are regularly created. There is always something new to discover in the foyer and in the display cases in the corridors. Why not take the opportunity to explore this inner world when the building is open? Enjoy coffee in the cafeteria or look for the big owl in the library hall, which might just greet you with a wink.