Pure architectural art - the mensa
a world-renowned architectural monument, a unique synthesis of architecture and art
The Mensa of Saarland University is a globally renowned architectural monument, a unique synthesis of architecture and art in the brutalist style of the 1960s.
»… one of the few examples of productive collaboration between artist and architect in the postwar period.architectural guide germany 20th century
The award-winning synthesis of architecture and arts by architect Walter Schrempf and sculptor cum painter Otto Herbert Hajek was built between 1965 and 1970. The two designers jointly received the BDA Architecture Prize Saarland for cultural buildings from the Association of German Architects in 1969 for the 'Studentenhaus'. The Mensa has been under monument protection since 1997, along with its interior furnishings.
The Saarbrücken architect Walter Schrempf (1921-1998) won the 1st prize in 1963 for his design of an initially simple, square-gridded, three-story multifunctional building made of reinforced concrete on a ground plan of 60 x 60 m.
The architect also designed the interior of the Mensa, aligning the arrangement of chairs and tables in variations with the basic module of the smallest unit of 12.5 cm. The counterpart is the modular coffered ceiling of 25 square units of 12 x 12 m each.
The Mensa is one of a kind. Reduction to its utmost simplicity.
Quote Walter Schrempf
Spatial art as art space
The architect invited the internationally renowned sculptor Otto Herbert Hajek (1927-2005) to re-structure the space and artistically design the dining hall and the elements of the exterior. Hajek developed a playful gallery of concrete wall reliefs and large, geometric spatial sculptures, as well as 'color pathways' in bold red-orange, yellow and blue in the dining hall, pointing from the inside to the outside, developing them from the given basic grid of the mensa. Hajek also helped design the facade and frontyard of the Mensa, giving it its characteristic look.
The student house should become a house of questions [...] questions about the meaning of learning at the university, expressed through forms, through color, through space.Quote O.H. Hajek
That was our idea of multi-media back then!Quote Walter Schrempf
Recently, the Mensa was also exhibited as a 'European Treasure' of Saarland, as part of the exhibition 'Mon Trésor' displayed at the World Cultural Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte. Saarland University celebrates 50 years of 'architecural art' or 'BauKunst Mensa' with this virtual web app and a linked permanent analogue exhibition on site. We hope that this will also support the urgently needed renovation of the mensa.