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46 PROJECT REPORT: EDUCATION & RESEARCH FACILITIES


The staircases pass by the many areas dedicated to reading, featuring innovative furniture and shelves. One is a dedicated children’s library that draws design inspiration from De Efteling, a fairy-tale theme park near Tilburg; giant storybooks and bookcases in the form of coloured pencils and rulers are placed throughout this area for the young visitors to experience and interact with. The galleries on the first floor allow visitors to browse the huge range of books hosted by the library, or perhaps visit one of the more quiet reading areas. Around these functions, and distributed across the building are what have been termed ‘labs’ – rooms dedicated to a specific area of knowledge. These include a Food Lab, a World Lab, a DigiLab and a Heritage Lab.


Alongside the labs, there is a concert hall known as ‘the glass hall,’ part of the coworking domain within the building run by Seats2Meet. This space is in the form of a large glass cube, which was reportedly part of the concert hall in Amsterdam’s Beurs van Berlage building. On the third floor is a balcony, offering panoramic views over the city. While it was not rented out at the time of this interview, Ingrid expects the extra space by the balcony to be inhabited by a restaurant or similar facility.


Open house


Realising the unenclosed nature of the library has been a fundamental part of the practice’s design process, and the theme permeates the entire building. One of the most prominent features of this is the long sight lines available to users from a large portion of the building, ranging diagonally across the interior landscape.


This effect was achieved in part by the architects capitalising on the building’s existing strength, with the team able to greatly minimise the amount of new structural elements. As van der Heijden says, “if the steel was strong enough to lift trains, then it’s strong enough to lift part of a building.”


Just two rows of columns were needed to supplement the existing riveted ones. Even these elements aid the openness of the space, hiding services for air, heating, water, lights and electricity underneath. In terms of heating a largely ‘open’ building, the practice worked with Arup to develop a system consisting of five “climate zones.”


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK ADF JULY 2019


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