Civilian’s two buildings for Bard College Berlin respond to local architecture and include brightly coloured communal study and social spaces
New York-based architecture and interiors studio Civilian has designed a student housing complex in Berlin for Bard College. Accommodating 120 students in twin red and grey brick buildings located in the city’s Pankow neighbourhood, the project positions the student residence typology as the ultimate model of contemporary co-living and co-working.
The mid-rise buildings respond to local context, drawing on the history of 1920s Expressionist architecture, Weimar-era housing estates as well as the 1970s Neo Bauhaus style present in Pankow.
Civilian was also responsible for the interiors, comprising 39 apartments alongside communal study and social spaces. The ground-floor, brightly lit study lounges enable different types of working, from individual study to group collaboration; one lounge aims to be busier, with a coffee bar that accommodates events, while the other is quieter.
The spaces are visually connected through a common material and colour palette which is bright, robust and joyful. Civilian created custom furniture that takes inspiration from minimal, utilitarian 1920s furniture by Dutch designers Gerrit Rietveld and Ko Verzuu, and has used this alongside refinished vintage furniture from the 1970s and 80s.
In the energy-efficient living spaces, multifunctional bedroom furniture is made from European birch plywood. The beds contain drawer storage for clothing, a back and armrest to be used as a chair and a pull-out bedside table. Each piece of furniture has been CNC-cut, flatpacked, and can be easily assembled or adapted for future use.
The two buildings are connected by a landscaped courtyard, designed as a social hub, which incorporates all rainwater runoff into a series of gardens planted with drought-hardy indigenous perennial plants.
Photography by Robert Rieger