Nearly 6,000 people pass through the building daily. Picture: SHL

New university block hailed as vertical city hall

Jez Abbott
Wednesday 19 Dec 2018

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects’ has described its new education building for HU University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands as a vertical city hall.

The 22,310-square-metre Heidelberglaan 15 building in Utrecht is a high-tech nerve centre for the teaching of economics, management, information communication and technology, and media and communication sectors.

The HU University of Applied Sciences used to be spread across 30 buildings, but four yeas ago started to consolidate its footprint into five buildings on its Utrecht Science Park campus. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects’ new structure is the last of the five completing the Kasbah masterplan.

“This was a spatial design challenge with more than 5,800 students, faculty members and visitors moving through the footprint of the building daily,” said Kristian Ahlmark, partner and design director Copenhagen at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “In order to create a social gathering place and bring daylight deep into the building, we placed meeting and study rooms around the atrium so it functioned as a vertical city hall that connects to the city square of the ground floor.”

A vertical space inside the main entrance opens up with a web of stairways, escalators and indoor bridges crisscrossing overhead. The ground floor of the university is designed to erase the boundary between indoor and outdoor by glazing teaching areas with full-length windows.

Transparency is also incorporated into two ground-floor lecture halls. Seating 200 and 260 people, the lecture halls feature glass walls and a retractable wall that opens up to connect with the main entrance hall. Also on the ground floor is a student-run café, technical areas and informal meeting spaces.

Moving up through the atrium, each of the university’s institutes has dedicated student and faculty centres spread out among the top six floors. The building also houses more than 60 classrooms, two smaller lecture halls, each seating 90 people, 20 project group rooms and timber studies along the central atrium for use by one or two people.

Meanwhile the white, off-white and timber color scheme of the university’s interior is accented with chartreuse lining the three escalators that transverse the atrium. The exterior façade features neutrally-colored anodized aluminium cladding.The Heidelberglaan 15 building opened in September 2018.

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Media Contact: Kristen Tate, Head of comms, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects E: T +45 3345 0474 M +45 2119 0686

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