One immediately forgets, on entering the new Mannheim Business School, that one is crossing the threshold into an imposing historical building, one of Europe’s grandest Baroque castles, situated in Bade-Wurtemberg. Rather, it is the colours which speak out – red for spaces dedicated to intellectually intense activities (teaching, debating), white for corridors and hallways, and a green backdrop in the shape of the adjacent park.
One is perhaps less instantly aware of the acoustic credentials of the whole; acoustic comfort is consummate, despite the ample glazing, high ceilings and scores of busy students. Architects schneider+schumacher took up the challenge of integrated solutions for the acoustic treatment of their design. ‘Right from the outset, we were conscious that acoustics were going to be an issue, and we had an expert in the field on our team. We searched for a product which would meet our demanding standards’ Kai Otto, designer of the project with Michael Schumacher, explains. ‘After a few weeks spent researching the question, we naturally came to Texaa’. Texaa®’s Vibrasto ‘ticked a lot of boxes on our list’ and provided ‘a blend of everything we wished to work with’ – a product with consistent results, workable in a range of configurations and over widely varying surfaces, be they flat or curved. Colour also played a decisive part. ‘Texaa®’s Vibrasto is the only product of its type available in a decent colour range’ Kai Otto points out.
Was this pure coincidence? It seems astonishing that Texaa’s first project with schneider+schumacher should revolve around a colour which is iconic for both firms. Red has been schneider+schumacher’s signature colour since the 1990s with the Info-Box it created in Berlin from 1995 to 2001. Red is also part of Texaa’s DNA, as is colour in all its products.
Over and above the question of colour, another question was also key for the architects. ‘Haptics – how you feel when you touch a product.’ At the end of the day, the Vibrasto products used were much more than a mere acoustic covering, but played their role fully in terms of colour and physical sensation. The red cladding over the walls and furnishings of the lecture halls brings three senses fully into play – sight, hearing and touch.
MBS – Studies Research and Conference Centre, 2013-2017
Acoustic material Vibrasto evolution.
Client: Amt Mannheim und Heidelberg des Landesbetrieb Vermögen und Bau Baden-Württemberg.
Architects: schneider+schumacher (design: Michael Schumacher and Kai Otto / project management: Meike Jung)
© Jörg Hempel
© Kirsten Bucher