Freie Universität Berlin
Lonely Planet review for Freie Universität Berlin
The Free University was founded in 1948 in reaction to the growing restrictions on academic freedoms imposed on students and faculty at the Humboldt University, then in the Soviet sector. Lectures started in the spring of 1949 and were initially held in empty villas throughout Dahlem. In the 1960s the university played a leading role in the country’s student movement, which sparked major nationwide academic and political reforms. Today it is the largest of Berlin’s three public universities with nearly 40,000 students hitting the books in numerous buildings spread across Dahlem. The latest addition (2005) is the Philology Library, a masterpiece of modern architecture by Lord Norman Foster. Nicknamed the ‘ Berlin Brain ’ because of its cranial shape, it has four floors sheltered within a naturally ventilated, bubble-like enclosure draped in aluminium and glazed panels. An inner membrane of translucent glass fibre filters the daylight, while scattered transparent openings allow momentary glimpses of the sky.