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Back Then: Lost in GW2 Building

Welcome to the maze: A signposting system had not been agreed upon when the building was opened in 1973

When planning the new university in Bremen, no one thought about a signage system for the indoor and outdoor areas. That is why the matter of a guiding system was an issue every time a new building was constructed on campus. In 1972/73, the plan was to find a solution for the GW2 Building.

The architecture society Schmidt-Müller-Glade suggested that an external consultant be brought in for the “orientation within the building.” Due to a lack of financial means, the in-house university “GW2 planning group” asked the architects to “make suggestions with regard to this” themselves. In turn, they developed a color and orientation system. At least the color concept was implemented indoors.

It was also intended that the color system aid orientation in the open-plan office for the field of work studies/political studies on the ground floor of GW2 Building. It was planned that teaching, consulting services, research, and administration were to work next to each other in this space of 3,000 square meters. Working spaces for groups and individuals were only separated by moveable partition walls. Students, teaching staff, and administrative staff were meant to find their bearings based on the colors on the concrete columns.

Numbering of Working Spaces?

However, the involved planning committees found this solution to be insufficient. They additionally discussed the pros and cons of maps at entryways or on leaflets, of signs on cupboards or the ceiling, or the numbering of the working spaces – however the latter was not to “visibly turn anyone into a number.”

Planning nearly 50 years ago: The concept and sketches are by architect Felix Uhlig for the signage in GW2 Building.
© Felix Uhlig

At the same time as these plans were being made and in contrast to the system in the GW1 Building, the construction department created a concept for the numbering of the GW2 rooms which also offered a chance of flexible room allocation. Colored spaces and door signs had been applied by the time the building was opened in October 1973. However, an agreement concerning the orientation system had not been achieved. Accordingly, the students walked the corridors with a complete lack of orientation.

Orientation Aid for GW2 Sufferers

The AStA Students’ Union tried to help with an “Orientation Aid for GW2 Sufferers.”

“The start of the semester this year will not only be a true test of patience for those beginning their studies: Despite carpet, open-planning, and colorful orientation aids for the subconscious […], the newly constructed GW2 Building will haunt some as a threatening concrete labyrinth for years to come. In order to help you at least find the rooms where you can ask for further directions, we have sketched the three floors of the new build (without liability!).”

It was only in 1980, after the open-plan office had been dissipated, that the final signposting in GW2 Building was agreed upon. The architect Felix Uhlig, who developed the system for the NW2 Building, was to function as a role model from now on and not only for this building.

New Orientation System Creates Better Overview

The orientation was and still remains difficult. Confusion especially arises in the GW2 Building due to the fact that each floor is split differently into rooms and that 4th floor can only be reached via two of the four staircase and elevator towers. For some time now, a new orientation system has been making a better overview possible. The signs with red lettering on a white background and an improved lighting of the corridors lead the visitors to their intended destination – usually.

The University of Bremen is turning 50!

The University of Bremen is turning 50! Join in when we bring the city onto campus and transform Bremen into a campus – in digital and analogue forms. All information can be found on the jubilee website. You can also experience the university’s birthday via social networks: #unibremen50

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