In January 2011, Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond was selected to design a student centre for Erasmus University Rotterdam. The student centre is located at the heart of a new master plan for the University area. It will be a vibrant and central meeting point where research meets business and science meets culture. Sustainability, usability, transparency and intimacy are the main objectives for the design of this Student Centre.
"We have designed a building which logically fits in the layout of the master plan," said Nanne de Ru of Powerhouse Company. "It will stimulate spontaneous use because it seamlessly connects to the surrounding public space."
A logistical core is located in the centre of the building and is enclosed by a range of public spaces. On top of this logistical core Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond designed a multipurpose auditorium that offers room for lectures, performances and debates. The clever arrangement of functions creates flexibility in use. "By positioning the compact logistic core in the centre of the building, we were able to create a facade which is transparent on all sides," explained Willem Hein Schenk of De Zwarte Hond.
"Through opening or closing the dynamic lamellas the users can determine how much daylight is coming in," commented Ru. "On the one hand this leads to a reduction of the energy consumption but it also enables them to adjust the level of intimacy within the building. Because the appearance of the building changes, the lively nature of the student centre becomes visible." "The student centre can be intimate on a Monday morning and both very open and vibrant on a Friday evening," Willem added.
To increase the sustainability of the building Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond researched and designed various measures, including a high degree of insulation of the transparent facade (triple layered), a compact building volume, positioning the (energetic) mass in the centre core and a careful orientation of the program towards the sun. Furthermore the building will be equipped with dynamical blinds, natural and demand-driven ventilation and flexible zoning. The remaining required energy will be generated by solar panels on the roof of the building.