Stadthaus in Ostfildern, Germany by J. Mayer H., 2002

Recipient of the European Union of Contemporary Architecture's Emerging Architect Special Mention award for 2003 is the Stadthaus in Ostfildern, Germany by J. Mayer H. Architekten of Berlin. The mixed-use building is located in Scharnhauser Park, housing municipal offices, a public library, art gallery, classrooms, and sports facilities, among other public spaces. Unification of these multiple uses happens in a simple boxy volume, with interest achieved through the use of artificial light, both internally and externally, among other means.

Before entering the building, the visitor experience a light and water installation in the form of computer-generated rain apparently dripping from the sizable cantilever of the roof. As well, an installation titled wind.light is located next to the Stadthaus, comprised of glass-fiber cables suspended from leaning poles. The ends of the cables dangle above the ground projecting points of light on the plaza surfaces, the power of the wind creating variations in the the light pattern and overall effect of the visitor's experience.

Scharnhauser Park's location in a former American military base near the Stuttgart Airport makes it worthy real estate for public use, rather than private development, such as office or residential. Stadthaus' location in the center of the Park and its subsequent architectural program make it the symbolic - not just geographic - center of the base's redevelopment. Its exterior appearance - boxy, simple, rusticated - is a foil both to the adjacent light installations and the bright and daring interiors.

The image at left is indicative of the interior architecture's simplicity and use of artificial light that is hinted to on the exterior to a lesser effect. Lighting inside is abundant, artistic in its execution and dramatic in its impact. Following from the light installations outside the building, it is no surprise that the practical lighting for the interior would resemble an art installation or an art gallery over typical utilitarian uses. Needless to say, the Stadthaus is not simply about lighting. Its interior volumes help to unite the program in a way that furthers the contemporary aesthetic of the project, enough to earn it one of Europe's most coveted awards.