A hub like no other

Colour-changing university hub fosters opportunities for informal meetings

by Amy 03 November 2011
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    A cylindrical, distinctive building in the middle of the town square is an urban plan­ning motif with roots in the Italian Renaissance. The form offers lots of floor space in relation to the amount of exposed exterior wall surface, and the upper floors project out over the lower ones - more on the south side than on the north, so that the building par­tially shades itself when the sun is high in the sky.

    A rotating screen shades the top floors, following the sun's path around the building. The triangu­lar-shaped windows let in the light where it's needed most - by the ceiling - from where it can reach deep into the core of the building.

    Finally, its brocade of glazed terracotta panels takes on different appearances depending on the viewing angle and the changing daylight conditions. The red colours refer to the industrial paint that was closely associated to the wharfs and the harbour. Here and there they meet a contrasting green patch, as in an autumn leaf. These details change the build­ing's character from one side to another, and over the course of the day.

    The plan is designed to foster opportunities for informal meetings. The lower floors house a Science Park where students can meet with representatives of the busi­ness community. The second level is also designed for public use, with its circulation paths providing the most intense interaction between the building's occupants and its visitors - they can even be used as exhibition spaces.

    The floors above have general-use, leasable offices. The building has only one elevator, making the stair the primary means of vertical circulation, which promotes contact between people and is also good for their health. By equipping the building with motion-activated lighting and ventilation sys­tems, energy is used only where it is really needed. The result is a building with a calculated energy consumption under 55 kWh/sqm annually.

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