Powerhouse Company has completed a new circular, and carbon neutral, timber architecture: the Tilburg University Lecture Hall, the Netherlands’ first mass timber university building.
The new energy-neutral building for Tilburg University Lecture Hall sits on a small footprint of 33 x 33 meters, and contains 14 lecture rooms, selfstudy areas and a foyer. Set within a wooded landscape, the lecture hall’s timeless form echoes the existing Modernist structures on the campus.
‘Together with our client, we upped our ambition during the design process resulting in a carbon neutral, completely circular, and BREEAM Outstanding design.’ says Janneke van der Velden, Associate Architect at Powerhouse Company
With its predominantly cross-laminated timber structure, the lecture hall is a fully circular pioneer in academic architecture.
Tackling significant design challenges, the wooden rib floors span a groundbreaking 9 meters, while meeting the complex demands required by an educational building.
The dry construction system employs 4.6 kilometers of timber beams that are demountable for future reuse. Additionally, hanging the limestone façade panels, rather than gluing them, allows the stone to be recycled too.
The new lecture hall’s design is inspired by the first structure on the campus: Jos. Bedaux’s 1962 Cobbenhagen building, now a listed monument. Bedaux reflected the university’s Catholic roots with a design that gives a Modernist twist to monastic architecture.
Powerhouse Company’s design adapts Bedaux’s monumental simplicity with a limestone facade, rhythmic window placement and a close relationship between the interior spaces and the surrounding nature.
The result is a building that, with its mellow stone facade and rootedness in the woodland setting, appears as though it has always been there.
‘The lecture hall is a timeless and sustainable addition to the campus architecture of Tilburg University. It breathes the atmosphere of the library and the monastery, in line with the original Modernist buildings.’ says Stefan Prins, Partner Architect at Powerhouse Company
Inside, as with the Cobbenhagen building, the fixtures and furniture are intrinsic parts of the design. A natural palette is used throughout – wood, stone, and plaster – from the lofty sculptural space of the lecture hall, to intimate window niches.
Besides the exposed structural mass timber, simple wooden tables, benches, and cruciform reading lamps exude a sense of serenity and calm. Expansive windows allow natural light to flood the space while playfully capturing a range of views, some unexpected – the sky, a single tree, or people walking to the campus.
Powerhouse Company looked at the various characteristics of the site surrounding our building – forest, parkland, accommodation, and the main route to the train station serving the campus – and designed four facades responding to these different features.
All four sides of the timber architecture connect via footpaths, views and sightlines to different parts of the site: Each side has different detailing and window distribution reflecting its orientation.
The Netherlands’ first mass timber university will be an addition to Powerhouse Company’s growing educational portfolio, including its pavilion for Erasmus University Rotterdam (with De Zwarte Hond) and its Jakoba Mulderhuis in Amsterdam (with Marc Koehler Architects and Architecten Cie), the new gateway to the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences campus, currently under construction.
Timber can replace other construction materials in many structures while providing the same functionality.
This increase in wood use can be attributed to a variety of reasons: wood can be transported and handled more easily than most competing materials; wooden buildings are easier to work with; wooden buildings perform well during earthquakes; wood is cheaper than other materials; wood reduces carbon footprints; wood buildings are more energy-efficient. Timber offers plenty of advantages!
Find out which are all the benefits of building with timber and some other best practices in using timber.
Image courtesy: Powerhouse Company