Maaklab: An open innovation space & creative cross-pollination
Over the past few years, Vives, one of the leading universities in West-Flanders, Belgium, invested in research and innovation. Furthermore, Vives disposes of an extensive machinery for the design- and production technology department and plastic processing.
With this in mind, dmvA was asked to transform an existing industrial building, where the car technology department used to be, to an innovation space that emphasises on co-creation, approachability and the development of technical competences. dmvA approached this project with a contemporary vision on education, where the focus is on the student, in contrast to the past. In this building typology an open learning environment has been created through an inner street, in which the student is important and is encouraged to participation.
The existing industrial building was built according to the principles of a prefab concrete skeleton. After a technical analysis of the existing construction, the building was stripped to its essence: a double-height space consisting of concrete columns, beams and floor slabs. By locally adding a new intermediate floor, an open inner street is created, surrounded by ateliers; workplaces and classrooms. In the side aisles there are spaces with heavy machinery. These remain physically closed but are visually engaging with the inner street because of the glass windows.
By using ready-mades dmvA highlights the accessibility and proves that even on a low budget you can achieve interesting results. For example, scaffolds were used as a tribune. Also the sectional gates and the use of pine wood for the added elements indicate a no-nonsense approach.
Floating wooden stair elements and a multifunctional tribune, which at the same time is a staircase, auditorium and a meeting place, ensure cross-fertilization between the various departments, but also transform the central inner street into the beating heart of Maaklab.
Maaklab is an example of how interior can influence the urban development. The inner street responds to the circulation of the campus through the buildings and functions as a forum on the school grounds.