Transparency and transformation are the key constituents of the Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond-designed student centre for the Erasmus University Rotterdam, as a logistical central core is delicately enclosed by a multitude of communal facilities. A large flexible space is located at the peak of the building’s logistical core, and is able to accommodate a high number of people for lectures, performances and debates.
Specifically geared to enable maximum flexibility, the crystal-clear building is easily converted from a relaxed and intimate conversation space during daylight hours to a thriving social and entertainment hub at night. Nanne de Ru of Powerhouse Company explains: “We have designed a building which logically fits in the layout of the master plan. It will stimulate spontaneous use because it seamlessly connects to the surrounding public space.”
Issues of sustainability were addressed throughout the design process, and numerous measures taken to lower the energy demands of the final concept. These include: a triple layer of insulation on the transparent facades; a compact building volume; positioning the energetic mass in the central core; and careful orientation of the programme towards the sun.
Nanne de Ru continues: “Through opening or closing the dynamic lamellas the users can determine how much daylight is coming in. On the one hand this leads to a reduction of the energy consumption but it also enables them to adjust the level of intimacy within the building. Because the appearance of the building changes, the lively nature of the student centre becomes visible.”