Heaven and Earth
Festschrift to Honor Karsten Harries

Vol. 12, No. 1
August 2007


___Andreas Degkwitz
  Closing the Gap between Cultures –
The Building of the Information, Communication and Media Center / Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum (ICMC/IKMZ) Cottbus


    1. The Mission of the ICMC/IKMZ
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Picture 1:
Aerial photography of the building[1]

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Picture 2:
The building from the north-west

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Picture 3:
The façade in detail

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Picture 4:
The staircase and the reading room on the 2nd floor

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Picture 5
The reading room on the 2nd floor

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Picture 6:
The staircase from the 6th floor

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Picture 7:
The service counter and the lending desk

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Picture 8:
The lending desk

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Picture 9:
The communication area on the ground floor

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Picture 10:
Working environment 1

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Picture 11:
Subject library on the 5th floor

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Picture 12:
Helpdesk on the 5th floor

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Picture 13:
Working environment 2

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Picture 14:
The exhibition area

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Picture 15:
The building from the south-west

New technology such as desktop publishing and internet, notebook and wireless recording methods, email and mobile phones has clearly altered research, teaching and study strategies. Today, the availability and use of data, in regards to both information and content, takes place through a variety of working platforms, carrier systems and access channels. Integration, convergence and networking are the keywords of this development. Modern forms of supplying information and media require integrated services. In the digital age, new technical features and redesigned organizational patterns are often quite abstract and technocratic. However, there is also an increasing demand for accessibility and transparency, corresponding the world of digital information and the media. Architecture and design have gained a new role with customers, clients, share- and stakeholders as well as users and staff. The functionality of a building, influenced by its technology and ‘fictionality,’ shapes the building and its rooms, such as in the new ICMC/IKMZ. Visiting the center offers a technological adventure and a new look into how the gap can be closed between organization and technology and visitor experience and sensuality.

What are the organizational and technical aims and objectives for the ICMC/IKMZ as a new central institution for academic support? With the developments mentioned above, the suppliers of information and media within the universities are presented with new tasks. Concretely, the infrastructure – including the library, the multimedia center, the computing center and the department for administrative data processing – are most affected. For the ICMC/IKMZ (as an institution) these challenges were often encountered, due to the new development in this area. The new integrated service offers workers a step-by-step method tracking both new and old users, while staying abreast of current requests and issues. One can find these elements in the ICMC/IKMZ, which caters to researchers, teachers, and students from the university and also to local residents and the greater region. Users have access to digital information and communication media, as well as computer workstations, production tools, and network access points.

New services also require new forms of organization and co-operation. Integrated services, found in the new building, require, as a prerequisite, close co-ordination and co-operation between the service provider and the service user. In 2004, the founding of the ICMC/IKMZ, the library, the multimedia center, the computer center and administrative data processing were brought together under a single management system, covering both the budget and staff responsibilities for the areas mentioned. With this consistent integration model, Cottbus University is one of the few universities in Germany, which have, up until now, decided to follow this path. Other comparable examples within Germany include the integration proposals from the universities in Oldenburg and Ulm

2. The Answer of the ICMC/IKMZ-Building

How does one combine this organizational and technical approach with the experience at the ICMC/IKMZ? The heart of the ICMC/IKMZ includes a new building, in which the library and the multimedia center are housed; the areas of 'operational data processing' and 'computing center' – also belonging to the IKMZ/ICMC, however are not housed in the ICMC/IKMZ but are at different locations on the university campus. The architecturally imposing and, at the same time, functionally oriented building was designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron
[3], and was finished in November 2004, after a three year construction phase and a 6 year, sometimes long and very difficult, planning process. The result of this process was an exceptional architectural building, which matched the mission of the space, providing different facilities and interdisciplinary services for modern learning, teaching and research. The architectural features provoked national and international attention: 10,000 persons have visited the building since its opening in 2005/2006. The big number of reviews (articles, books, journals) also reflects this tremendous interest.

The building, which stands in the eastern part of the BTU campus, between the University and the city, is a 32 meter high, reinforced concrete construction, covered by a double-shell glass facade embossed with stylized graffiti. The ground plan of the building has a curved outline resembling a cloverleaf, which does not explicitly have front and back sides. The central space for public use is 7,630 m² - 5,461 m², 976 m² for the administration, and 1,193 m² for the closed stacks[4]. Altogether, the new building has more than 700 workstations available. The amazing external architecture continues internally with a spiral staircase, extending from the 1st to the 6th floor, along with a striking color scheme (in vibrant yellow, green, magenta, red, and blue) for parts of the floor covering and walls.

In addition, a further characteristic of the building is that within the ground plan none of the floor plans are the same. With the exception of the management and business areas on the 7th floor and the technical and pool areas in the two underground levels, there are only a few truly separate areas. This allows a flexible and open concept for the use of the building, which consciously allows for many work and communication forms for both single and group users. The work and reading areas are in coves related to each of the floors, while the open access stacks of the library – floor specific – are arranged according to subject areas are located in the core of the building.

The library, with its underground stacks and the specialized libraries distributed over six floors, is the focal point of the building's use: The individual specialized libraries are distributed over the various floors as follows with open stacks:
Special library 1: Arts, Economics, Law (1st underground level and 2nd floor);
Special library 2: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Technology (3rd and 4th floor);
Special library 3: Natural Sciences, Environment, Informatics (Computer Science) (5th and 6th floor).
The multimedia center occupies the 1st floor, with its facilities for multimedia production as well as for tele-teaching and tele-learning environments. On the ground floor, there is a checkout desk, a service counter for all services of the ICMC/IKMZ and an exhibition area. In addition, on their appropriate floors, are the individual helpdesks for the specialized libraries as well as printing, copying, and scanning stations. Moreover, on the 1st underground level, computer labs and presentation rooms provide various possibilities for multimedia functions. On the 2nd underground level those stacks are located, which are closed for the public (Mittler 2006, Warnatz, 2005).

An important precondition for the supply structure in the new building is the network based access system. This is a modern, high capacity system based on a complete glass fibber infrastructure from the centre to the individual workstations.

3. The Bigger Picture of Service

The integration approach will be carried through on both the technical and organizational levels (Degkwitz, 2005/2006). The technical integration is related particularly to the areas: archiving and back-up, homogeneity of the basic data of university staff and students, mail and web services, unification of the use of operating systems and software. In this way – within the limits of what is technically possible and maintainable – redundancies in the hardware and software areas, as well as data storage, will be avoided and, at the same time, a long-lasting standardization of the basic services will be aimed at. The organizational integration will embrace services in which individual activity areas intersect and/or in which at least two activity areas participate such as: authentification and authorization serves, filing and storage services, as well as production and publication services
(Degkwitz, 2007).

But the integration approach is also presented in the building and its spaces, which invite students and researchers to work both individually and in groups. On the 6th floor there are 18 cabins (carrels) for graduate students. In the pool areas, which are located in the 1st underground level and in the multimedia center, one can find a well equipped computer room, for computer based courses and training as well as for multimedia presentation and videoconferencing. But even in the many reading rooms on the different floors, users have the possibility to work as individuals or in groups. Though the large variety of spaces, both in location, technology and size, users can more adequately fit their communication and working needs without special orders or regulations.

The ground floor is partly used as an area for exhibitions of faculty projects or external partners. As well, the large reading rooms can be prepared for conferences and social events. Because of the openness and the transparency of the different floors it could be said that the building is too noisy to work in concentrated and silent atmosphere. But the readers and users don’t seem to be disturbed by the possible influences of noise. On the one hand there are places and rooms enough to find everyone’s proper environment. On the other hand it might be a matter of practice and preference.

Thus, within the framework of the service development of the ICMC/IKMZ, matrix-like organizational structures are used, which should guarantee the necessary flexibility for the permanently changing user and service demands. Since 2006 the following teams have been established recruited from different departments of the ICMC/IKMZ:
Team 1: Public relations and budget planning;
Team 2: Front-Office;
Team 3: Innovation-Office in cooperation with the project elearn@btu[5];
Team 4: Content and Data Management;
Team 5: Consolidation of systems.
The teams report to the director of the ICMC/IKMZ and to the regularly meeting executive board of the ICMC/IKMZ, which includes the director of the ICMC/IKMZ and the heads of its departments.

4. Conclusion

The charm of the building is found in its shape and colours. Nobody has to be afraid of the yellow, green, magenta, red and blue colours of the floors, the walls—opening up the new world of media. There is no ‘cultural gap’ between this signature of the building and the work of its users. The building and the concept has been awarded a “Place of Ideas” in the campaign ‘Germany – land of ideas,’ in correlation to the soccer world championship 2006[6] and ‘Library of the Year 2006’, the national library award of the ZEIT-Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius and the German Library Association[7]. The conjunction of "living" spaces, state of the art technological equipment and integrated services creates an atmosphere of cultural growth and inspires new ideas from all who encounter the building. Is there anything else, that could  close the gap between organization, technology and sensuality more effectively?



Many thanks to Ralf Schuster (ICMC/IKMZ) for the photographs. All the rights for the pictures are reserved by the ICMC/IKMZ of the Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus.

ICMC/IKMZ in the WEB: www.tu-cottbus.de/ikmz



Bibliotheca Universitaria de Cottbus. El Croquis: Herzog & de Meuron 1998-2002, (2002), 210-219.

Degkwitz, A.: Neue Anforderungen an die Informationsinfrastruktur von Hochschulen. Bibliothek – Forschung und Praxis 29 (2005) 3, 353-359.

Degkwitz, A.: The Building of the Information, Communication and Media Center (ICMC) / Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum (IKMZ) of the Brandenburg Technical University / Brandenburgische Technische Universität (BTU) Cottbus, in: LIBER Quarterly (2006) 16

Degkwitz, A.: Convergence in Germany. The Information-, Communication- and Media-Center (ICMC/ IKMZ) of Cottbus University. Library Hi-Tech (2006) 24, 430-439.

Degkwitz, A.: Informationsinfrastrukturen im Wandel. Informationsmanagement an deutschen Universitäten / Changing Infrastructures for Academic Services. Information Management in German Universities, hrsg. und mit einer Einführung versehen von Andreas Degkwitz und Peter Schirmbacher. – Bock + Herchen, Bad Honnef, 2007, 383 S. mit graph. Darst. und Abb. – elektronischer Zugang unter: http://www.dini.de/documents/DINI_Informationsinfrastrukturen.pdf

Hänel, K; Ache, R.; Wetzel, A.: Energieversorgungskonzept für den Neubau der Universitätsbibliothek der BTU Cottbus. Forum der Forschung (2002) 14, 77-80.

Mittler, E.: Changing Needs - Changing Libraries. Documentation of new library buildings in Europe, ed. by Elmar Mittler for the LIBER Architecture Group Seminar, Utrecht and Gent, 20-25 March 2006. Göttinger Bibliotheksschriften 34, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, 2006, 87-110.

Tanneberger, S.: Das Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum (IKMZ) der Brandenburgischen Technischen Universität Cottbus. Bibliothek, Forschung und Praxis (2003) 27, 69-71.

Warnatz, A.: Eine Medienburg aus Glas und Beton. BuB (2005) 57, 349-354.



[1] To the architectural idea cf. Herzog & de Meuron, 2002.

[2] s. the integrated institution IBIT of the University of Oldenburg under http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/projekti3sic/,
and the communication and information center of the University of Ulm under http://kiz.uni-ulm.de/.

[3] About the planning and the process of the construction cf. Tanneberger, 2003. To the air condition and energy concept cf. Hänel, 2002.

[4] More detailed information about the building of the ICMC/IKMZ given to the answered questionnaire of the LIBER Architecture Group cf. Mittler 2006.

[5] s. http://www.tu-cottbus.de/projekte/de/elearnbtu/

[6] s. http://www.land-of-ideas.org

[7] s. http://www.bibliotheksverband.de



Vol. 12, No. 1
August 2007