Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
META and TRACTEBEL in association with Storimans Wijffels architects just have completed their commission from the University of Antwerp to build an auditorium and research building at the heart of the Drie Eiken campus in Wilrijk. Accessed through 2 spacious entrances, Building O contains 8 auditoriums, 2 microscopy rooms, 1 bio-space and 1 laboratory and also provides space for a reprographic service and 216 bicycles.
The building houses the following Faculties: Medicine and Health Sciences, Pharmacology, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences and Biology. Previously spread over several campuses in Antwerp, the teachers and students are now united in one building.
“By paying special attention to the structure, we were able to dispense with several layers of nishing. The result is a solid, student-resistant construction.” [Niklaas Deboutte, META architectuurbureau]
“Building O is a bright and compact volume, an eye-catcher for the campus but with the smallest possible spatial stamp.” [Eric Soors, META architectuurbureau]
MIRROR SYMMETRY IN A READABLE BUILDING
Building O is a bright and compact volume that, on the one hand, is intended to be an eye-catcher on the campus. On the other hand, it was also required to leave the smallest possible spatial stamp on the site. The balance between affirmation and integration, and the unifying role of Building O, resulted in a universal building with a double entrance section that is mirrored diagonally, thus assigning equal importance to the access points on both sides. The four auditoria on each of levels -1 and +1 are arranged around the central atrium, the large skylight of which permits zenithal daylight to penetrate to the underground level. The ground floor accommodates shared functions and the large entrance-cum-meeting rooms. Four compact stairwells that provide short circulation lines and rapid re-evacuation times lead off from this area. The upper level (+3) is reserved for the laboratory and microscopy rooms.
MAXIMUM LIGHT INGRESS WITH A FLOATING VOLUME CLAD IN GOLDEN PERFORATED ALUMINUM SHEETS
By positioning the ground-floor facade inwards to a depth of 1 module it was possible to create a covered interior circuit. The floating volume is enveloped in golden perforated aluminum plates that function as fixed blinds for the auditoriums, microscopy and laboratory rooms. These allow a soft filtered light to permeate the building while also permitting views outside. The panels on the 3rd floor can be opened to allow maximum light into the practice spaces. Using the same material for both the facade and ceiling of the interior circuit, as well as the foyers, gives rise to a floating volume that, in the diffuse evening light, reveals a glimpse of its inner life to passers-by.
PROMINENT ROLE FOR ART ON THE CAMPUS WITH ARTIST PERRY ROBERTS
Art was integrated into the project through the work of Perry Roberts (Uk). A photograph of students and teachers was punched into the golden aluminum facade panels. A reference to traditional class photographs, the image was rasterized into dots with 5 different diameters. The production of multiple panels, each of which is unique, was simplified through the use of the CNC-technique. When viewed close-up, the image appears to be abstract, but becomes readable at a greater remove.