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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

New building for top research institute DIFFER in Eindhoven, The Netherlands by Ector Hoogstad Architecten

 
November 27th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Ector Hoogstad Architecten 

The Netherlands has an excellent reputation in the international world of science. Ector Hoogstad Architecten has won commissions to design many new buildings in Dutch universities and research institutes in recent years. DIFFER, the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research located on the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology, is the latest in the series. The building will be officially opened on 19 November.

Northwest facade with sawtooth profile photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Northwest facade with sawtooth profile
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

  • Architects: Ector Hoogstad Architecten 
  • Project: New building for top research institute DIFFER
  • Location: De Zaale 20, 5612 AJ Eindhoven, The Netherlands 
  • Photography: Petra Appelhof
  • Software used: Revit 
  • Client: FOM DIFFER
  • Project team: Joost Ector, Max Pape, Koen Klijn, Ralph Sijstermans, Koert Hougee, Arja Hoogstad, Rena Logara, Joost vander Linden, Hetty Mommersteeg, Marco Verroen
  • Construction management: Aronsohn raadgevende adviseurs
  • Installation consultants: Deerns raadgevende adviseurs bv
  • Construction consultants: IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs
  • Main contractor: Dura Vermeer Rosmalen

Main entrance, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Main entrance, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Ector Hoogstad Architecten had a three-fold task when it came to designing the building. Firstly, the two main experimental halls full of highly specialised equipment had to be designed to very demanding specifications in close cooperation with the users. Secondly, DIFFER, as may be expected from an institute that deals with renewable energy, attaches great importance to sustainability and this had to be reflected in the design. Thirdly – and this was perhaps the most intrinsically architectural challenge – the building had to be designed not only to meet all technical and functional requirements but also to encourage encounters between the users of the building and with the wider campus community surrounding it.

West facade with bridge at first level, connecting the other campus buildings photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

West facade with bridge at first level, connecting the other campus buildings
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

West facade with sawtooth profile and screens on the south-facing parts photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

West facade with sawtooth profile and screens on the south-facing parts
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

We believe that this last-mentioned aspect is the one where we as architects can make the greatest contribution, by helping the researchers to get out of their ivory tower and mix with others. The resulting exchange of views and opinions can help to stimulate creative thinking, acting as a seed-bed for inspiration.

Green roof garden on top of an experimental hall photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Green roof garden on top of an experimental hall
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

The ground floor offers views over the green surroundings photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

The ground floor offers views over the green surroundings
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

This aim was achieved in the case of the DIFFER building by extensive use of lines of sight to anchor the structure and by the provision of attractively designed communal facilities. A pivotal role is played by the above-mentioned two experimental halls, which are surrounded by ample circulation spaces including multi-storey atria. The heart of the building, comprising the main meeting places – two two-storey lounges combined with conference facilities, lecture theatres and the restaurant, which leads out on to the roof gardens on top of the experimental halls – is situated right about the key urban axis, De Zaale, that runs through the middle of the university. The north side of the building lies on one of the principal access routes to the campus. The main corridor through the building is situated right behind the transparent façade on this side of the building, giving occupants and passers-by a clear view of one another.

Void on the second floor with access to the roof garden photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Void on the second floor with access to the roof garden
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Void seen from the second floor photo, Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Void seen from the second floor
photo, Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

The building is the first laboratory building in the Netherlands to be awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating – no mean feat, largely achieved thanks to the consistent use of triple glazing and the mounting of solar cells on the entire roof area. The façade design is even more noteworthy in this connection, with individual solutions being devised for the different sides of the building: the north façade is designed for maximum transparency; the south façade is provided with eaves and roller blinds with extension arms to keep off the sun; while the east and west facades are given a sawtooth profile with alternating south-facing and north-facing sections. Vertical screens on the south-facing sections keep off the sun, while the north-facing sections are without sun blinds to ensure plenty of incident daylight and a good view of the surroundings.

Double-height lounge area photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Double-height lounge area
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Lounge area with view at De Zaale photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Lounge area with view at De Zaale
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

The instantly recognisable design makes the building a landmark in the campus. Its form and the choice of the materials used in its construction are both contemporary and reminiscent of the architectural idiom of the 1950s and 60s that characterised the early days of the university. The wide use of glass and the profiled concrete elements that surround the building give it an air of combined gravitas and transparency. The interior is full of light and attractive greenery, bringing the idea of the campus – a fusion of scientific function and idyllic form – indoors.

Electronics compartment on the southeast corner photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Electronics compartment on the southeast corner
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Office on the second floor, eastside photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

Office on the second floor, eastside
photo, Image Courtesy © Petra Appelhof

The design was created in cooperation with IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs as construction consultants, Deerns as installation consultants, Peutz as building physics consultants and IGG as costs consultants. The final responsibility for the design lay with Ector Hoogstad Architecten.

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Situation plan of DIFFER on the campus of TU Eindhoven, Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

Situation plan of DIFFER on the campus of TU Eindhoven, Image Courtesy © Ector Hoogstad Architecten

About Ector Hoogstad Architecten:

“Our ambition is to make complete and distinctive architecture which enriches people’s lives. We believe more in the gradual and intelligent development of our architectonic concepts and technical expertise than in revolutionary ideas. We explore limitations and transcend them from within. On every project, we systematically work with our partners and clients towards architecture that sets the tone – we won’t settle for anything less.”

About DIFFER:

DIFFER’s mission is Science for Future Energy: to be a leader in fundamental research in the field of fusion energy and solar fuels, in close collaboration with academic institutes and industry. It is DIFFER’s ambition to play a national facilitating role in fundamental energy research, in line with the Dutch government’s policy of striving for excellence in 9 specified “top sectors”.

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Categories: Building, Institute, Laboratory, Research & Development Centre, Revit

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