The new Erasmus University Rotterdam Student Centre is located at the heart of a new master plan for the University area. Designed in combination with Powerhouse Company, it is set to become a vibrant and central meeting point on the campus where research meets business and science meets culture. Sustainability, usability, transparency, and intimacy are the main objectives for the design of the Student Centre.
We approached the design with the idea of creating a building that can actively change its facade—not only to adapt to the weather and the cycle of seasons, but also to allow an adjustable level of intimacy inside, depending on the events. Through opening or closing the dynamic lamellae, users can determine how much daylight comes in. This leads to a reduction of the energy consumption, but it also enables one to adjust the level of openness of the building.
The curved lines of the lamellae that sweep across the four facades are based on the path of the sun and moderate the amount of natural light and heat according to the sun orientations. The appearance of the building continuously changes depending on the events inside the building and the weather outside the building. It is animated by the vibrant rhythm of the Student Centre’s life, making it visible from the surrounding public spaces.
The facade and its mobile aluminium louvers combined with the wooden interior ceiling, creates a dynamic spatial experience. On a grey winter Monday morning the Student Centre can be made into an intimate, warm indoor space; while on a warm summer Friday evening it can be turned into an open and vibrant space.
The transparency of the building is preserved by positioning all “dark space” programs that require an absence of daylight in the core of the building. This “logistical core” efficiently serves the publicly accessible spaces distributed around it. On top of this logistical core we placed a multipurpose auditorium that offers room for lectures, performances, and debates. This distribution of functions creates high flexibility in use, which was essential for the feasibility of this project.
To lower the energetic impact of the building, various technical measures have been implemented. A compact building volume, the positioning of the mass in the centre core, a careful orientation of the program toward the sun-combined with the active facade, the solar panels on the roof, the natural ventilation, and flexible zoning transform this transparent building into a low consumption landmark.