The Detmolder Schule für Architektur und Innenarchitektur stands out for its rich variety, based on its three courses of study, Architecture, Interior Design and Urban Planning. The course of study in interior design is the largest in Germany. The study of architecture and interior design in Detmold is characterised by the following aspects:

  • An advanced analysis of liveable space – interior and exterior space, buildings, public squares, urban and rural landscapes
  • The interdisciplinary interaction of architecture, interior design, media production, civil engineering, etc.
  • An international dimension, with university partnerships in Brazil, China, Italy, Korea, Norway and Poland
  • Holistic, creative and practice oriented study
  • The possibility to combine the studies of architecture and interior design
  • The possibility to specialise within a course of study, and develop one’s individual profile.

Campus Emilie

For almost two decades, the Rector’s offices of the University of Applied Sciences have worked to secure premises for the Detmold branch adequate to its mission in research and teaching. The long-term goal of securing a campus site moved closer to realisation after 1991-’92, when the British and German armies abandoned their former barracks area on Detmold’s Emilienstraße, and a report by the State Construction Office confirmed the suitability of the site for the accommodation of the college departments.

The first part of the area, with Blocks 1 and 3, was acquired from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1994, and the rest in 1999. In the spring of 2003, the so-called “Bülow Block” was rebuilt for use by the Departments of Architecture and Interior Design, and has been available for use for research and teaching since the middle of 2004.

The new “Emilie Campus” was not yet complete, however: a new laboratory building for Department 3 (Civil engineering), with a central three-story building-materials laboratory, and an institute building for Department 1 (Architecture and Interior Design), in which central facilities for the entire campus, such as the library and the canteen, are also housed, had to be planned and implemented.

The somewhat unusual situation was that the same architecture experts were in effect wearing both hats: in their capacity as staff of the Building and Property Management (BLB), they are the “landlords”, while in their capacity as a college, they were the “tenants”. As a result of this conflict, the BLB issued a tender for a competition, in which both the BLB staff and the college teaching staff and students could participate; the latter were the largest group, with some sixty submissions. The winning entry, a student submission, was implemented during the winter semester of 2007-’08, and students and the teaching and administrative staffs could move in.

The Competition

The jury consisting of teaching staff of the College, representatives of the BLB, the city of Detmold and the Ministry of Science of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as practicing architects and engineers met at the beginning of October 2003. Of the approx. sixty submissions, the jury chose that of the student team of Birte Stricker, André Büker and Andrea Heemeier from the Department of Architecture and Interior Design as the winner. In its decision, the jury stated:

“The submission subdivides the new building area into two main bodies of different dimensions and different expression, but the same formal characteristic style. The laboratory areas are arranged along the building line of the Bülow Block on Bielefelder Straße. The main building, with all the remaining functions, is a detached building in the rear area of the lot. The main body height of both buildings, with their flat roofs, is oriented towards the eve height of the Bülow Block. This has a calming effect on the multifariousness of the surrounding urban environment. The main building is accessed via the campus. Its head, facing the campus and with no further structural developments, contains the common use areas – the dining hall and the library – in the right place. 

The extended dual structure of the main building is characterised by a central light bar with an open staircase. This interior access promises good clarity and a spatial quality adequate to public use. The geometry of the cube-shaped new buildings creates a reference to Bielefelder Straße and produces discernible clearances which are fundamentally correctly dimensioned. Traffic access via Bielefelder Straße has been correctly planned, both for parking and for delivery to the labs. The descriptions of the façade structure must still be rendered more precisely. The overall value of the work is its unpretentious matter-of-factness, which fits the architectural ‘tone’ of the Emilie Workshop.”

The new campus

Mission | Spatial programme 

The new buildings and the use of the former veterinary horse clinic combine the Departments 1 and 3 as well as the canteen and the university library in a common campus complex. The areas of Department 1 and the laboratory areas of the Department 3 are both functionally and structurally independent. Thus, 4335 sq. m. of usable floor space has been created in the main building, including the canteen, the library and the administrative offices, and 1725 sq. m. of usable floor space in the laboratory building. The kindergarten Paulinchen and the two research centres “Construction Lab” and “Perception Lab” are in the building of the former veterinary horse clinic.

The Campus’ place in the urban landscape

The new structure with the laboratory building is located along Bielefelder Straße; the Institute Building is parallel to Bielefelder Straße and forms the northern edge of the campus. This arrangement makes short routes possible between the central facilities in the campus area. The height of the new buildings is oriented towards the buildings along Bielefelder Straße and the former barracks buildings on the campus. The existing difference in height has been used to incorporate a single-storey parking block, which on the one hand connects the two new buildings, and on the other permits its use as a work space, as well as a car park.

The “Patchwork Concept”

The strength of the University of Applied Sciences lies in its wide range of opportunities and the simultaneity of different views. Parallel to their work in the Emilie Workshop, students, together with their professors, developed concepts and ideas for various sections of the new building. The workshop formulated the framework required conditions, provided the cost limits and too care of the realisation of the projects. Numerous interesting large and small scale details for the design and equipment emerged from this “patchwork” – from the colour of the new façades to the design of the partition walls in the toilets. In this manner, an unmistakable architectural gem was created, which is at the same time a “visiting card” building, in which the basic principles of the university – pluralism, diversity, heterogeneity and the joy of experimentation – are reflected.

Transparency and Openness

The open and transparent arrangement of the buildings promotes the creative atmosphere on the entire campus. The variety which is generated by the possibilities for combining the two courses of studies, architecture and interior design, is reflected in the teaching. 

The open ground plan gives rise to a wide variety of work and study situations. Whether closed, half open or fully open, seminars are held everywhere. This permits an active exchange, so that students gain an insights into work and the designs of their fellow students. The movable exhibition spaces, too, lend the space a character of constant change.

The professors have their offices in so-called “prof boxes”, which are designed individually from modular “room-in-room” systems. There are numerous student workplaces, studios and project spaces. Here too, the cooperation between students is promoted by the openness of the rooms.

The Colour and Space Workshop

In the context of the Colour and Space Workshop, a comprehensive colour concept was developed for the new high school buildings. Together with Professor Thomas Kesseler, the four students Janine Tüchsen, Mareike Schippel, Bettina Weyand and Inga Schröder during a two-day workshop developed a concept which takes into account urban development aspects, the relationship of old and new structure, and the connection of inner and outer space. 

The intensive analysis was followed by a brief introduction to the topic and a relaxed brainstorming session. It was soon clear that, from an urban development point of view, the new buildings would have to fit into the existing colour scheme of the red brick North German architecture of Buildings 3 and 4. Thus, the new façades have assumed the various reddish-brown colourings of the surrounding old buildings. With the help of chromaticity diagrams, the students determined the hues exactly. 

Together with the grey-green façade panels of the new institute building, this makes for an exciting contrast. The design of the interiors proved to be more difficult, since, especially in the new Building 2, with his open ground plan and the large glass fronts, very few walls are available for colour design.


The Emilie Barracks were built between 1901 and 1904 for the 55th Count Bülow von Dennewitz Infantry Regiment, by the Lippean master builder Paul Schuster, on an area of 41,207 sq. m. Altogether, five buildings and the outer wall were built in the standard imperial format, in red brick masonry. The original roof consisted of red roofing tiles. 

The original architectural style has remained almost unchanged. During the 1930s and ‘40s, additional buildings were built inside and outside the barracks area. After the Second World War, a large part of the barracks was used by a transport unit of the British Army of the Rhine. Two buildings were used by the German Army. Six buildings, a monument and the outer wall were already included in the monument list in 1988. The British and German military vacated the area in 1991-‘92. A part of the property with historical buildings was then purchased by the city of Detmold. That area and a new building added later now house the Bach School .

In September 1993, the report on the suitability of the area for use by the University of Applied Sciences was submitted. Initially, some 8800 sq. m. of the property were acquired from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in December 1994, including the historical blocks 1 and 3 (Department 3 and the Casino Lecture Building) and the major part of the outer wall. The rest of the area, with the Bülow Block, were purchased in December 1999. On 24 January 1995, the planning order “Expansion of the former Emilie Barracks for the University of Applied Sciences, Detmold Branch” was issued by the Detmold State Construction Office.