120 students can be housed in Bard College Berlin’s new residential buildings – a flexible environment for ‘open social exchange, living and learning’.

Key features

Drawing inspiration from the Weimar-era progressive housing estate in Berlin, Civilian looked to the example of architect and urban planner Bruno Taut and 1920s Expressionist architecture. In doing so, the team of designers and architects sought to reimagine ‘communal contemporary living’ in the twin buildings, which host 39 apartments over 60,000 sq-ft. A landscaped courtyard – better described as a ‘spatial social hub’ – connects the two residences, as well as adjacent academic buildings. The gardens are maintained with rainwater runoff, just one of the sustainability initiatives on site.

Inside, the dynamic spatial programming is thought out to meet the needs of students on both an academic and personal level. ‘Our goal was to create a range of convivial public lounges across both buildings for both individual study and collaboration while designing flexible private living spaces for maximum comfort and personalization,’ explains Nicko Elliot, Civilian principal and cofounder. Custom-made utilitarian furniture that echoes the work of Gerrit Rietveld, Ko Verzuu, Donald Judd and Andrea Zittel, in addition to refinished vintage pieces, offer functionality, adaptability and storage.

Frame’s take 

Loneliness among university students is a problem that predates COVID-19; especially for international students, as these residences are intended for, a comfortable, sociable home-away-from-home is critical for wellbeing and academic success. The brightness and airiness of the interiors and the vibrant, optimistic colour scheme are two winning aspects of the aesthetic here. And the layout, with its ample allocation of communal areas, goes a long way in encouraging interaction amongst residents. It’s a space that seems to intuit the needs of users and facilitate an easier transition between home and school – we’d be interested to see how activities and events are woven into the programme to complete the overall domestic experience.