Mensa Triangle by SOMAA


Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

Architects SOMAA of Stuttgart have collaborated with Guido Dongus to complete a canteen between two schools in Leonberg, Germany.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

Called Mensa Leonberg, the new structure connects three existing buildings on the site.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

The undulating facade features narrow alternating vertical strips of columns and full-height windows.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

Asphalt flooring surrounding the building continues to the interior.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

Here's some more information from SOMAA:

Mensa Leonberg

SOMAA. and collaborator Guido Dongus, would like to announce the completion of the new Mensa in Leonberg, Germany.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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Natural ventilation was also 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.

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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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

Mensa Triangle by SOMAA

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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.

See also:


Yellow Submarine canteen
by Tulp Design
Key projects
architecture stories

Posted on Friday June 11th 2010 at 5:41 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • felix

    That ceiling has me in a twist. On one hand it's a beautiful solution, on the other hand it feels uncomfortable having a kind of lattice above you. I'm not sure why though, have to see it in real life to know how that feels.

    Otherwise it's pretty boring. Nice detailing, but no repsonse to context, nothing on a kid's scale, not even any colour. A few green chairs do not count!

    "the new structure connects three existing buildings on the site"

    It does? It looks to me like it just sits unengagingly next to them. There's only one door if I read the plan right. It's impossible to tell where the doors might be from the photos since every wall looks the same.

  • poster

    ok, let’s start a quiz
    find two or more coincidences betwen this building and any of Herzog and de meuron!!

  • Reiko

    Hmm…maintaining those light fittings above the pipe ceiling will be a nightmaire…

  • the texture on the ceiling looks pretty good.

  • Jaques H.

    Wonderful response to a undefined urban space. The design is very self explaining, archaic. It is maybe on of the most interesting solutions of the last years, what european architecture has brought up.

  • Q


  • dgman


    plan: cottbus, library
    ceiling: Allianz Arena, Muenchen

    what did I win?

  • felix

    @reiko: Maybe the pipes welded together into panels to simplify suspending them from the ceiling. So you access the lights by just removing a couple of panels.

  • Every structure is brilliant. Amazing.

  • max

    wenn done Hadi! SOMAA is a great practice!
    Good luck for the years to come!


    Its nice – the ceiling is a bit 1960´s but nice.

    Well done!

  • LX

    i like the ceiling, but to be honest it hits me like a hammer. like gallian people were saying in Asterix comics: the sky is falling on my head… my direct translation… this wonderful ceiling is doing the same. in another context it might been more useful. but all in all: a wonderful project for people which wouldn’t understand its context and meaning in architecture. sometimes i wonder if nicely done architecture stands in the right place.

  • Poster

    Dgman you are pretty brilliant I just hope you don't work at somaa -a new quiz find a Japanese studio with a similar name lol- but yeah I had those both images in mind too specially when you people are so excited about the ceiling and it has alredy been done by the Swiss duo but I guess hdm are the most plagiarized studio nowadays with Sanaa and maybe who else? By the way I could send you a copied sketch by herzog on a paper napkin yes!

  • edward

    The ceiling seems to busy and the stock fixtures are clearly visible above it.
    Can’t imagine it results in defused lighting. More thought here, gentlemen!

  • Mr. Glasses

    What a mature project for such a young firm. Very clean.

    One question though… How are the Germans so good at writing!?!?

  • powkey

    haha yeah. they speak and write better english than us.