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meck Architekten, Refectory, Garching

Dining with a View: New Refectory for the Garching Campus

The new heart of the scientific and technical centre of Munich’s Technical University stands north of the middle of campus. It took three years to complete the building that now houses one of Germany’s largest self-service cafeterias. The clear design language creates a sense of peace in the ensemble of heterogeneous solitaires that characterize the university grounds. The new, two-storey structure fits into the existing grid structure of its surroundings.

Vertically, the volume is zoned into two layers: one of wood and another of glass. On the ground floor, a massive base of reinforced concrete is concealed behind a façade of pinewood panelling. Openings connect the campus and the inner courtyard, where three pine trees stand at the centre. This area is home to the publicly accessible functions such as the refectory, the CampusCneipe pub and the lobby, which features a stairway that gently ascends to a light-flooded plateau on the upper level. This is where food is served and where the dining room, which has a ceiling-high glass façade, is located. To one side, this glazing affords a broad view over the science campus and, to the other, it creates visual connections to the patio and beyond, allowing clear orientation within the building.

The roof structure, a coffered ceiling of reinforced concrete, is an eye-catcher in terms of both construction and design. Like a slice taken from a massive plinth, it seems to float above the upper level, giving the space a particular character. The few columns enable flexible furniture arrangements.

The opening of the refectory in September 2019 was a great success: as lunchtime approached, people waited in long lines until the culinary centre of the campus closed for the day. Thanks to the self-service system, up to 7,300 meals can be dished out every day. The old, 1970s-era cafeteria building has been slated for demolition. Unfortunately, architect Andreas Meck did not live to see the grand opening, for he died in August, shortly before the completion of the project.

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