Erasmus University Rotterdam Restarts Campus Heart with Modernized Grounds

(Courtesy Powerhouse)

The new campus heart of Erasmus University Rotterdam provides a contemporary space for student gathering. (Courtesy Powerhouse Company & DeZwarteHond)

This month, a newly opened public campus center brought the brutalist Erasmus University Rotterdam Woudestein Campus back to life. In a collaborative effort by several Dutch architectural firms, three projects have been realized at Woudestein to create a contemporary on-campus heart for student gathering. Integrating existing grounds of several elevations, the sustainably built center provides multi-level student resources and is the first phase of a university-wide redevelopment master plan, which will extend into 2015.

(Courtesy Sputnik)

A semi-sunken parking garage acts as a stepping stool between varying elevations on the campus. (Courtesy Sputnik Architecture Urbanism Research)

Designed by Juurlink [+] Geluk Amsterdam and Jvantspijker Architects, this central axis of the campus is the first revitalization in their master plan, encouraging student community while tying together the north and south sides of the university map. Erasmus Plaza, a large outdoor courtyard, becomes the “center of gravity” of the Woudestein campus as a low elevation surrounded by the university’s original voluminous and sculptural late 1960s structures. The landscaped plaza contains a large rectangular pond, water features that retain excess rain, and purifying plants.

On the same plane is a new contemporary building, a student pavilion for amenities and resources by architecture firms Powerhouse Company and DeZwarteHond. The glass box with a wooden auditorium core has sliding lamellas to close or open the building’s transparent facade. Each wooden lamella was designed individually in 3D to create the precise, curving facade panels that cover most of the sides of the glass structure. This passive construction uses outside weather conditions to reduce energy consumption and a green roof with solar panels and renewable construction materials build an energy-neutral structure.

With a double height ceiling and open steps on one side, the student pavilion flows between two elevations. In clever urban planning, it connects the low Plaza with the roof level of a semi-sunken parking garage by Sputnik Architecture Urbanism Research, Jvantspijker Architects, and Juurlink [+] Geluk Amsterdam. The parking structure becomes a stepping stool to the height of the existing academic buildings on the site while providing 1,000 new student parking spaces. It contains two access levels, one from Erasmus Plaza and one from its roof and marks the entrances of the campus, through its new campus heart.

With modernizations to the campus center, Erasmus University Rotterdam hopes to become “an inspiring learning, living and working environment with a unique style: cosmopolitan, transparent, open and welcoming to encourage both formal and informal encounters.”

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