Outdoor facilities of Johannes Kepler University of Linz (AT)

Before the redesign, the outdoor facilities of the Johannes Kepler University Linz were a confusion of open space structures. A continuous line was missing, there was little offer and space to stay and no sports facilities on-site. The network of paths and roads through the open spaces was pragmatic and esthetically unappealing, the paths followed the style of the 1960s and 70s and had little quality of stay. While the architectural and structural stock offered great potential, the spaces around the university grew irregularly over the years and had a missing structure. Our aim was to create a holistic offer of qualities including the stock: The historic castle park, the forest of natural trees around the pond in the center of the area as well as the water area itself, which until the redesign was not used as a recreation area. The planting was getting on in years and there were many objects that were supposed to provide orientation, but in their abundance and inconsistency had quite the opposite effect. Our solution was to create focal points for a clear structure of the area as well as a sharp and legible profile of the landscape.

The heart of the campus park is the 500-meter-long promenade. It connects the university buildings and green spaces from east to west: The library, the Uni-Center and the various institute buildings are lined up along the promenade. Across the pond people find places to relax directly by the lake. At the Keplerhall, the “black square” offers seating and freely usable green spaces. The urban design with its clear structuring represents an appropriate solution for the location: The focus lies on the design and functional networking of the area with the surrounding landscape. Situated between Elmberg and residential quarters of the city of Linz, the campus site blends into a green and semi-urban area on the outskirts of Austria’s third biggest city.

Each of the open spaces have different recreational qualities: The library is the central building of the campus and was architecturally expanded with the „white square“ that frames the building with clearly structured, green areas. This square represents the aesthetic entrance area of the central university building. The „Schlosshof“ (courtyard of the castle) has been transformed from a previously unused space into an impressive ensemble of historic and modern architecture with irregularly arranged cherry trees that emphasize the valuable character of this place. 
The historic fountain was left in its original place and was revived in terms of water technology. The pavement in the courtyard is slightly lowered and framed by a concrete band, which reinforces the courtyard character. The promenade connects the various university buildings and green spaces from east to west, always placed directly along the pond. Across the pond we created the „beach“, where landscaped and partly private seating areas behind perennials and grass plants provide a retreat for those who are looking for peace and quiet. Finally, at the newly built Keplerhall with the “black square” offers seating areas and freely usable green spaces as well as volleyball courts.

With the redesign of the campus of the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the area has become a recreational area not only for students but also for the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. This was a central task: To create a public space for all people throughout the year and to use the space in the best way to enhance the experience of stay. Now, more than two years after the redesign the improvement is visible: The area is densely visited and used in many ways throughout the year.

More on our website: https://www.dnd.at/index.php?inc=projectSelection&id=191:3098

Architecture offices involved in the design: Riepl Riepl Architekten ZT GmbH

Project location: Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Altenberger Straße 69, 4040 Linz, Österreich

Design year: 2018

Year Built: 2020

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