The "Somnium" Viewing Platform is Finished

The panoramic "Somnium" viewing platform atop the TN Tower is open.

Grand Outlook for the Johannes Kepler University Linz

Construction on the panoramic "Somnium" viewing platform is finished – campus enhancement and expansion plans are fully underway

A different spin on looking at the various campus construction sites: You now have a bird’s eye view from the “Somnium” atop the TN Tower to look at the JKU construction sites, including the library extension, the new LIT Open Innovation Center and Kepler Hall as well as the Science Park extension.

Starting today, April 25, 2019, the JKU now has its own landmark. The "Somnium" - a viewing platform featuring an event and seminar room - opens new campus perspectives just north of Linz.

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas explained, "The university’s namesake Johannes Kepler dreamt about a journey to the moon and wrote what is often considered the world’s first science fiction novel, 'Somnium'. Thanks to science and research, what seemed like a dream at the beginning of the 17th century finally became reality. Today's dreams are tomorrow's groundbreaking ideas and these ideas need space on campus where our researchers can dream and reflect. We have created that space by creating the Somnium. In a time of hectic changes, the Somnium can be considered as an architectural antithesis to the strict functionality of the TN Tower, which is home to the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering. RieplRiepl Architects came up with an idea that inspires the imagination".

Hans-Peter Weiss, Managing Director of the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft, added, "In the coming years, we will be giving the JKU a complete facelift. Today’s opening of the Somnium is just the start. The Open Innovation Center will also be finished in just a few days. By the end of 2019, we will finish the Library & Learning Center as well as the new Kepler Hall. At the same time, we are just starting construction on Science Park 4 and will shortly be starting construction on the Science Park 5 building. By 2021, BIG will be investing well over 80 million euros in to the JKU campus. We will be making a significant contribution to sustainably improving learning, studying, teaching and living in and around the campus."

Governor Thomas Stelzer remarked: "Upper Austria is the nation’s economic engine and to keep it that way, the region needs science and to successfully conduct research. And we need a strong Johannes Kepler University. If our region is to remain competitive in a globalized world, we need collaboration between the business community, industry and science. In the hectic pace of trends and innovations, however, it is just as important to pause for a moment. In this regard, the Somnium is not only a visible symbol of cooperation between the industry, the business community, and science, but also a place to come up with promising ideas. It is something original that also serves a practical purpose as a think-tank space."

"The “Somnium” gives the TN Tower a landmark that can be seen from afar. It marks the start of a whole series of infrastructural expansions on the Johannes Kepler University campus. The university will continue to drive the economy and society and underscore Linz as a location of education," says Klaus Luger, Mayor of the City of Linz. Mayor Klaus Luger sees the JKU as "an important partner to keep pace in our vision to make Linz one of Austria’s most innovative cities."

The JKU Campus as Natural Living Space

Construction on the Somnium began in June 2018. A total of 130 tons of steel were used for to build the Somnium atop the TN Tower. The plant wall gives the Somnium a live, growing "cover", connecting a place of science to the greatest inventor of all time: Mother Nature. The Somnium can accommodate up to 200 guests for an event and has a "think-tank space" or seminar room for 25 people. Beginning June 6, JKU employees can reserve the Somnium free of charge for team-building or other events. External parties can reserve the Somnium for a fee. The new JKU landmark is not only a place to relax, but also provides space to work, study, and hold discussions or meetings. The TN Tower is now over 60 meters high instead of 50 meters. When the weather is good, you can see as far as the city center of Linz.

Architect Peter Riepl remarked, "The new JKU campus is more than just an educational machine; it is characterized by a lively variety of surprising possibilities. The Somnium inspires the senses, stimulated by 'openness to the world and foresight’. For a few moments, you can leave everyday life behind, dream of distant shores and set things in motion without feeling forced to be creative."

The Somnium platform not only offers unparalleled views, but is also an ideal place to observe the many construction sites on the JKU campus. For example, construction on the Library & Learning Center's addition is in full swing, extending approximately 23 meters from the existing building and supported by 15 columns. A sweeping, grand staircase will provide access to the new Learning Center. JKU is responding to the students' wishes to create mutual studying spaces. The Center will feature over 300 spots divided into three zones: a quiet study zone, a general learning zone, and space for group and team work. In addition to construction at the library, construction on the new Kepler Hall building is well underway. By the end of 2019, the JKU will boast a beautiful gateway building to the campus, featuring a 600 m2 auditorium designed to be a Welcome Center as well as a venue for cultural and sporting events. Beginning in the summer 2019, the outdoor facilities will be gradually redesigned, renewing social spaces and expanding the walkways as well as creating sports facilities. In addition to a multifunctional sports field in the Forum Technikum area, plans are currently in the works to create a beach volleyball court and a pool in the pond. In addition, the lighting concept will be changed.

The Science Park is Growing

In addition to campus renovation and enhancements, three new construction projects are in the works at the JKU. The Austrian Federal Real Estate Association will soon hand over the keys to the LIT Open Innovation Center located west of the JKU campus. The grand opening ceremony for the modern timber building is scheduled for June 5, 2019. Just east of the area, construction for Science Park 4 and Science Park 5 has just started. The buildings are expected to be finished by Summer Semester 2021.

Hans-Peter Weiss, Managing Director of BIG, remarked, "The JKU is an example of high dynamics in university construction that Austria has been experiencing over the past several years. In the past five years alone, BIG has invested over one billion euros in structural infrastructures at Austrian universities. Over the next five years, the investment volume will even increase to approximately 1.7 billion euros."

Rector Lukas added, "The JKU campus enhancements are a visible and, at the same time, a significant contribution to the university’s attractiveness, both in Austria and abroad. This not only requires a strong will to courageously move forward and implement these kinds of projects, but also strong, reliable partners. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Republic of Austria and the Federal Real Estate Company. Without either of them, we could not have proceeded with our ambitious plans with this kind of quality and speed."

Keplers Dream, Your Dream

In his sci-fi novel “Somnium”, astronomer Johannes Kepler dreamt about a journey to the moon. To mark the grand opening of the Somnium platform atop the TN Tower, the JKU is collecting messages about dreams for future technology to send around the world at the grand opening of the LIT Open Innovation Center on June 5.

In 1608, visionary mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler dreamt about a journey to the moon. His sci-fi novel Somnium ("The Dream") describes a trip to the moon as realistically as he could for the time period. What was considered as science fiction at the time became reality 360 years later. On July 21, 1969, the first human on the Apollo 11 mission stepped on the moon. What will science make possible in the coming decades and even centuries? Are you also one of these visionaries? Tell us your dreams for the future - write your technological vision of the future on the JKU’s Facebook page. We will turn your post into an analog dream message that we will send in a balloon from the Somnium on June 5 as part of the LIT Open Innovation Center grand opening.

These are the dreams of:

Thomas Stelzer, Governor of Upper Austria

"Thanks to voice control, artificial intelligence and smart devices such as information glasses or intelligent clothing will help everyone around the world communicate faster and easier with one another - just like with a good friend. Differences in language, culture and social conditioning can be overcome more easily. Computers will help us to really understand each other."

Klaus Luger, Mayor of Linz

“Physical transportation will be completely different. Beam me up, Scotty!”

Hans-Peter-Weiss, Managing Director of the Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft

"New developments in storing and transmission technologies will mean that solar power will become sustainable, environmentally friendly, serve as a clean energy source, and available to everyone on the planet."

Meinhard Lukas, Rector of the Johannes Kepler University

"Physicians and chemists at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz are conducting intensive research into developing an artificial retina enabling the blind to regain a certain degree of sight. I dream about bio-printing technology that can synthetically create complex human organs. If these organs could be truly fully functional, patients would no longer have to rely on organ donations."

Peter Riepl, Architect at Riepl Riepl Architects

"Dreams and visions of the future are mostly naive, stimulating, and mysteriously beautiful. Reasons enough to dream as much as possible. In the past 100 years, our planet has become really big! An 'Open Society' is now a reality. Freed from confining fears and prejudices to a large extent, people have become joyful discoverers of the global, boundless vastness of everyday life. They explore and enjoy the immeasurable wealth hidden within, both the familiar as well as the new, and unfamiliar. The resulting high productivity - largely immaterial goods - is not created against the world, but rather increases its beauty. Broad education, more inspiring public spaces, and more are helping people to overcome a fear of openness and become truly 'frivolous' life artists."