Collegium Academicum


Karlsruher Straße, Konversionsfläche Hospital
69126 Heidelberg | Rohrbach

Project Partner

Collegium Academicum GmbH

Contact Person

Felix Wohlfarth



The Collegium Academicum is pioneering on multiple levels: It is the first student residence in Germany that is not only managed by the residents themselves, but was also initiated, developed, and constructed by student volunteers. It is the first multi-story timber structure with almost 5,000 square meters of usable space featuring no steel joints. And it is also a subject of research for a multitude of scientific investigations. Hence, for example, it serves the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research as a practical model for analysis of space-saving living that still offers a high quality of life.

»This bottom-up project is characterized by a great deal of openness and idealism,« says architect Hans Drexler, who was selected with help from IBA in the course of a workshop procedure, describing the collaboration with the students. Only with this kind of participatory planning process was it possible for such an experimental spatial layout to evolve, since it would never have been realized by classic developers or investors.« The initiators are setting new standards with this accommodation, in which students are able to reduce their individual living space in favor of communal areas and thus make sparing use of valuable space without impairing their quality of life.

Altogether there are 46 shared apartments, each for four people, spread over four stories with flexible floor plans that can be adapted, extended, and adjusted by residents based on their personal and/or shared living needs. The apartments are complemented by 360 square meters of communal space with a variety of uses, such as a workshop, an assembly hall for events, and a multi-purpose room with a kitchen. In the neighboring old building the spatial arrangement is supplemented by an area for the »Propädeutikum«, a self-organized learning and orientation year for future students. In the form of the Collegium Academicum, the initiators have not only created affordable and inclusive living space for students in the city of Heidelberg; they have also developed a place that offers open space for shared living and learning.

The project is an example of a successful bottom-up process where the originators of the idea became the developers and with the assistance of IBA Heidelberg emerged as champions of built culture. Thanks to the architects, some 2.2 million Euros were secured from the German Federal Ministry of Building’s »vario-housing« funding program driven by the »ZukunftBAU« research initiative. Research funding was also forthcoming from the German Federal Foundation for the Environment. Financing has taken the shape of direct loans based on the tenement block syndicate model.

The Collegium Academicum shows in two ways how sustainable living can be created and social responsibility taken into account: On the one hand, the users and initiators committed themselves to sufficiency and have permanently withdrawn the property from the real estate market through the Tenement House Syndicate model. On the other, knowledge is shared at different levels through self-management from the idea through to building operation, encompassing the self-initiated education program as well as amenities for the neighborhood.


February 2014

Nominated as an IBA Project

March 2015

Sufficiency workshop

May 2015

Propaedeutic workshop

March 2016

»Vario living« workshop

December 2017

DBU research funding granted

February 2018

Federal funding for »vario living« (2.1 million euros)

May 2018

Incorporation into the Mietshäuser Syndikat (Tenement House Syndicate)

July 2019

1st groundbreaking ceremony

May 2020

Start of construction

November 2020

Workshop on use of the old building

March 2021

Topping-out ceremony

January 2022

Completion (new building)