More place than house

Mensa school center “Stadtmitte”, Leonberg

The new Mensa Leonberg is a shared cafeteria between two neighboring schools in downtown Leonberg. The building is situated between the street and three existing buildings and consists of three circular volumes fusing together to become one undulating form. This configuration separates itself from the existing, arbitrary urban plan and defines the space in between the existing structures.  This creates a cohesive link between the two schools while also designating itself as a central meeting place. 

More place than house

The building creates several interior and exterior
zones that are used to fulfill the various social needs
of the two schools. These interior and exterior zones
converge and blur the division between outside
and inside. This is evident when one looks at the
materials used for the flooring. The dark asphalt
surrounding the building continues into the interior
through the entry and, thus, combines the external
and internal circulation spaces.

The internal circulation contains the main entrance,
the dining counter and queue, and allows for
continuous movement between the three core
functional spaces. Within these core spaces are two
areas for dining and meeting, and a third space for
food preparation and other necessary services. By
joining the core spaces in this way, the total area of
the building is minimized, but allows for a flexible use
of space and a generous area for circulation.

“The new cafeteria is the hub of the school life together, a gathering place, a meeting place and eating together.”

Open space continuum

The special zones created by the internal functions are also reflected in the interior materials. On the ceiling, black bands mimic the circular forms created by the building shape. Within these black bands, small, cylindrical, aluminum tubes of differing circumferences were used to create a drop ceiling that disguises the artificial lighting above. Moveable partitions also follow the circular forms within and allow the two dining areas to be closed.

This further clarifies the function of each zone and its relation to the overall building shape. On the exterior, the façade consists of a system of open and closed floor to ceiling panels paired with exterior wooden supports. Here the rhythm of the vertical columns reinforces the undulating form of the building and the open glass façade creates a visual connection to the outdoors. The shape and orientation of the building was designed to maximize solar gain and for this reason the southern and eastern sides of the building consist of the main dining areas and have an almost entirely open façade.

Economy and prefabrication

The generous amount of natural light that is created by the open façade allows for the relatively small use of artificial lighting and contributes to making the space feel open. Natural ventilation wasalso incorporated into the façade and is used in combination with a mechanic ventilation system. By optimizing the relation between façade area to ground surface, loss of temperature is also minimized.

On the western end of the building, the façade is closed surrounding the service core, and skylights are used to provide natural light for work spaces. By using a regular façade in this way, the elements needed for construction could be simplified and a large amount of the construction could be industrially prefabricated. The simplicity of the building form is then tectonically expressed with in the construction and overall design. By uniting these elements, the building gains clarity and functionality that was beneficial in linking the two schools.

Project information


Leonberg, Germany

Project status



City of Leonberg


Hadi Tandawardaja

Tobias Bochmann

in Cooperation with

Dongus Architekten

Guido Dongus


Patricia Neligan

Type of project

Multiple commission


LP 1 – 2


697 m²


2700000 €





Mensa Schulzentrum Stadtmitte, Leonberg, 1st prize