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Göttingen, DE

The Institute for Biophysical Chemistry stands on an attractive sloping site in the Göttingen district of Nikolausberg. The Max Planck Society initiated work on the building for the research group led by Manfred Eigen (*1927), who was director of the Institute from 1957 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1967. An invited competition was held in 1966, which was won by Walter Henn. Eigen himself had argued for the realisation of the Henn design because he found the relationships of the volumes, the functional logic and the objective form compelling.

The Institute's new complex, which was constructed between 1968 and 1972, was very much in line with the original competition entry. The research centre runs along the contours of the site. Its extensive research programme is split between laboratory and workshop, with a separate subsidiary complex containing the general institute facilities, such as the library, lecture theatre, seminar rooms, refectory, administration and visitor accommodation. The laboratory and workshop area forms the heart of the complex. The workshops are situated in a terraced basement from which five tower-like sections of building rise. In each of these is a department with laboratories which can be laid out and equipped to suit the wishes of their researchers and have direct vertical access to the workshops. A reinforced concrete skeleton constructed using in-situ concrete was developed as the structural solution. The facades have bands of windows with light metal profiles and continuous balconies clad with suspended precast concrete units.

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